Was Sony’s PlayStation Vita Handheld Console Ahead of Its Time?

The PlayStation Vita might be Sony’s most underrated console. Despite being a technological triumph, with both software and hardware we’d never seen before, the PS Vita failed to take off, receiving little support from both gamers and Sony.

Despite its commercial failure, the PS Vita had features that were ahead of its time, and to this day, Sony’s handheld console still has offerings that even modern consoles like Nintendo’s Switch (OLED model) lack.

Let’s look at eight features that made the PS Vita ahead of its time.

1. The Original PS Vita Had an OLED Screen

A PlayStation Vita 1000 Series

When Nintendo unveiled the Nintendo Switch (OLED Model), its key selling point was—you guessed it—its brand new OLED screen.

Which would be impressive… if the PlayStation Vita didn’t launch with an OLED screen. Nearly a decade ago.

The fact that Nintendo thought that an OLED screen was so essential to this new Switch that it’s literally named after this feature is a testament to how forward-thinking Sony was when it launched the Vita with one—and that wasn’t even its star attraction.

Related: LCD vs. OLED: What Are the Differences?

2. You Could Connect to More Than Just Wi-Fi With the PS Vita

The PS Vita came with an optional 3G model, which was a lot more impressive back in 2012. 3G support meant that you could play online in more places than ever before—a feature even the latest Switch still lacks.

This is another nod to how the Vita was ahead of its time, with Sony taking into account that if you’re playing your handheld device in a number of locations, there’s a good chance not all of them will have Wi-Fi.

3. The PS Vita Had Fantastic Backward Compatibility

Though its exclusive game library wasn’t anything to write home about (anyone for a game of Touch My Katamari?), the Vita’s backward compatibility was excellent.

You could play most PS1 classics, PSP games, and PlayStation Minis all by digitally downloading them via the PS Store straight on to your Vita.

Backward compatibility on the Vita made up for its lacking game library, and hey—playing retro games anywhere you like is a wonderful thing.

4. Remote Play on the PS Vita Was a Game Changer

Another feature that made the PS Vita’s game library explode was Remote Play. Here, you could stream any PS3 or PS4 game directly onto your Vita.

Ever wanted to play God of War, or Uncharted 4 on your Vita? You can with Remote Play. And, with adding external triggers on your Vita, you won’t have to sacrifice too much by playing on your handheld.

It’s a shame, then, that Sony didn’t keep up Remote Play support on the Vita, meaning that you couldn’t progress past some parts of games without playing them on your PS4 first.

Remote Play expanded the Vita’s gaming library into something formidable, allowing Sony to make its games portable without creating a brand-new handheld port.

Related: Play PS4 Games On Your Mac or Windows PC With Remote Play

5. The PS Vita Let You Organize Your Games Into Folders

A common complaint amongst Switch users is the lack of organization on the console, with no way of sorting your games. Even with the Switch (OLED model), this is still the case.

It’s strange that Nintendo still hasn’t taken a page out of Sony’s—and every phone maker’s—book. Folders are an essential way to avoid clutter on your screen and easily locate what game or app you want without having to trawl through everything you have installed.

Folders are small addition, but you’ll notice very quickly if they aren’t there. Fortunately, the PS Vita knew that.

6. You Could Easily Connect Bluetooth Headphones to the PS Vita

Nowadays, you’ll regularly see people with AirPods and other wireless headphones, but back in 2012, wireless headphones and earbuds were not the norms. So, it’s a cool future-proof move by the PS Vita to let you easily connect Bluetooth headphones to it.

It’s slightly ironic that the Vita spotted a trend without becoming one itself, and it’s strange that this is a feature we still don’t see with modern handhelds like the Switch. You’ll need an adapter with Nintendo’s device, unlike the Vita which you can directly connect to.

Related: The Best Wireless Earbuds for All Budgets

7. The Original PS Vita Wasn’t Prone to Joystick-Drift

Controller, joystick, or simply stick-drift has plagued most consoles, including the Switch’s Joy-Cons, the Xbox Controller, and the PS5 DualSense controller, whose drifting you can try to fix.

This phenomenon occurs where you aren’t touching anything on your controller, yet your character is moving, due to a malfunction inside the thumb-stick.

The original PS Vita 1000 series had a bulkier build than the more recent 2000 series—AKA the “slim” version (which also replaced the OLED screen with an LCD one). It was this original version that had fewer complaints about joystick-drift, possibly due to this more secure build.

Given that all current-gen controllers are suffering from stick-drift, that the 1000 series Vita somehow minimized this issue is impressive.

8. There Was a Way You Could Play the PS Vita “Docked”—PS TV

The idea of playing on multiple devices or formats is a big attraction to cloud gaming services like Stadia, as well as the Switch, which you can connect to your TV or monitor to play your games like a more traditional console.

Years before this hit the mainstream, the PS Vita had a similar feature. Towards the end of 2014 in the US, Sony released a non-handheld version of the PS Vita, called the PlayStation TV.

This micro-console essentially served as a “docked” PS Vita, functioning like a Vita on your TV. While not as seamless as the Switch, this is another ingenious move by Sony that arrived years before such things were commonplace.

A bonus of the PS TV was that you could use both PS3 and PS4 controllers on it, with the extra buttons replacing the Vita’s front and back touchpads. This meant that using the PS TV, you could play a two-player PS4 game using both a PS3 and PS4 controller. That’s pretty neat.

With the PS Vita Discontinued, the Nintendo Switch Steps Up

It’s sad that the Vita never caught on, despite many of its future-proof features. It’s even sadder that, despite these features being on the Vita nearly a decade ago, we’re still seeing a lack of them in modern handheld consoles.

Sony discontinued the PS Vita in 2019. And, while you can still find one on the second-hand marketplace, there won’t be any new games or support for it.

Right now, if you’re looking for a modern, actively supported, yet slightly lacking handheld device (thanks to the Vita), the Nintendo Switch is the way to go.

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