Yeah, yeah, I’m aware that I’m comparing two quite different devices here, a bit like saying: Five reasons to buy a horse instead of a cow. Or something. But bear with me; it’s a good excuse for me to ramble on about the PS Vita, which is an excellent little device.
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I reckon this is actually a fair(ish) comparison. Join me after the break for some random Friday rambling. It’ll be great. Promise.
Regular readers might be aware that I picked up a PS Vita when it was first released. I’d primarily bought the handheld to inject a bit of fun into my trip to Mobile World Congress 2012. Not that working 10-hour days in a roasting hot press room isn’t “fun”.
Alas, thanks to my flat mate (grr), my PS Vita wasn’t delivered in time for the trip (he was busy lying on the couch when the courier knocked on the door), and it subsequently spent several months lying in a cupboard untouched (the PS Vita as opposed to the flat mate).
However, over the past few months, I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with Sony’s latest handheld, and if someone asked: “Hey man, should I buy an iPad or a PS Vita?” – I’d probably go with the latter.
Obviously it depends what you want the iPad for, but one of its primary uses is surely gaming.
Y’know what? I'm rambling. Let’s get stuck into these five points; five reasons to buy a PS Vita and not an iPad mini. Oh! And I’m using the iPad mini in particular ‘cause it’s roughly the same price(ish) as the PS Vita.
1. Why buy an iPad (mini) at all?
My mum once asked: “What can your iPad do that your phone or laptop can’t?” To which I replied: “Uhhhhm…” The mothership was genuinely trying to understand why someone might want an iPad, but there’s nothing to understand. It’s just a big iPhone.
Personally, I use my iPad to review games for Mobot, and that’s about it. If I didn’t write about phones for a living, I almost certainly wouldn’t have an iPad. True story.
Similarly, I’d probably have a 1p feature phone instead of an iPhone 5, but that’s a different story for a different day.
The iPad mini in particular is a pretty terrible buy, for my money. If you absolutely must have one, wait for the inevitable Retina model later this year.
So, yeah, the iPad is actually pretty pointless, while the PS Vita is a dedicated games machine. It’s a no-brainer.
2. The hardware
As I touched on a couple of paragraphs back, the iPad mini isn’t a great buy as it stands. It’s really just a small iPad 2 – complete with a relatively modest dual-core A5 processor and disappointing 1024 x 768 resolution. Avoid.
Meanwhile, the PS Vita is a miniature powerhouse, and obviously built with one thing in mind: gaming.
As such, the PS Vita comes with multiple (including shoulder) buttons, dual analogue sticks, a D-pad, an accelerometer, a touchscreen, and a weird touch-sensitive panel on the back.
If you’re looking to play games on the move, buy a PS Vita. I’ve been playing my Nintendo DS this week (specifically the excellent 999), and it feels like a kids’ toy next to the PS Vita.
3. The games
The PS Vita is admittedly struggling at the moment, and that’s largely thanks to the lack of must-have games. A decent version of Call of Duty would’ve surely shifted hundreds of thousands of units, alas…
However, things are picking up, and I heartily recommend Super Stardust Delta, Virtue’s Last Reward, Persona 4 Golden, Rayman Origins, LittleBigPlanet, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Lumines: Electronic Symphony, Dokuro, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, MotorStorm RC, Mortal Kombat… Not to mention all the PSOne games in the PlayStation Store. Must make the time to play through Final Fantasy VII again.
Over in the land of iOS, the number of truly memorable games is mostly comprised of Infinity Blade and, er, Infinity Blade II. Obviously there are loads of other great games, but I’m fighting for the PS Vita here. Shh.
4. The price
The iPad mini will set you back a cheeky £269 for the 16GB model. That’s pretty steep, even for Apple.
PS Vita bundles have been kicking around circa £150 recently. It’s also worth mentioning that games are frequently available for £10 or less – including Metal Gear Solid. Incroyable.
Oh, and I’ve just discovered the joys of PlayStation Plus. You can grab an annual subscription for £25-30, and that entitles you to a number of free PS3 and PS Vita games – yours to keep for as long as you’re a subscriber. It really does offer astounding value.
At present, for the PS Vita, you can grab WipEout 2048, Uncharted, Gravity Rush and Lumines. For “free”. Brilliant.
You’ll struggle to fit the iPad mini in your pocket, and it weighs in at a significant 308g. Actually, I say significant; it’s actually less than half the weight of the full-sized iPad.
The PS Vita is a tad lighter at 260g, and assuming you’re wearing hip-hop jeans (don’t we all?), it’ll easily fit in your pocket.
If you’re considering buying an iPad mini to play games, don't. Buy a PS Vita instead.
My tongue is partially nestled in my cheek, and I’m clearly being slightly biased towards Sony here, but bring on the anti-Vita/pro-iPad mini backlash.