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Sony is no stranger to the handheld gaming market as they have been offering such devices since 2004 with the PlayStation Portable. Whether or not the PSP was successful is certainly debatable, but Sony decided to move onto a more powerful handheld gaming device that featured some improved controls, display and games that looked as good as some PlayStation 3 titles. We’re of course talking about the PlayStation Vita, which was released back in 2012. After two years of being on the market, Sony finally decided to offer a new version of the Vita, called the PlayStation Vita Slim.

The PlayStation Vita Slim offers a number of improvements over the original PlayStation Vita that includes a much thinner frame, an LCD screen instead of an OLED one, and improved battery life to help players game for hours on end. Sony has also been building the PlayStation Vita as the perfect companion for its next-generation console, the PlayStation 4. With that said, is the PlayStation Vita Slim the handheld gaming device you should purchase, or is the original PlayStation Vita actually a better buy with its OLED screen? There’s only one way to find out and that’s through our review.

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Industrial Design (excellent)

The design of the PS Vita Slim is one of the biggest changes Sony made to the design of the original PS Vita. One of the first things you’ll notice is its 5” LCD touchscreen display, which is a rather large change compared to the original Vita’s 5” OLED screen. I’ll get into the differences between both displays further down in this review, so we’ll keep our focus on the overall design. When you pick up the Vita Slim, that’s where all of Sony’s hard work slimming down the handheld is really appreciated. The front of the Vita Slim has larger speaker holes located at the sides of the device, a circular PlayStation, Select and Start buttons and a more prominent front-facing camera. The Vita Slim’s directional pad, analog sticks and face buttons are pretty much unchanged, or the changes are so slight that I can’t even notice them.

The rear of the PlayStation Vita Slim continues to feature a touchpad, although its design has been tweaked. The two areas where your fingers land on when you’re holding the Vita have been enlarged, which we have a feeling is to help with accidental touching of the touchpad. These landing spots for your fingers have a more felt material to them, which helps keep your grip on the handheld. The touchpad itself no longer features small symbols of different PlayStation buttons, replacing those with small dots that look similar to the texture of the DualShock 4 controller and a PlayStation logo located at its center. Using the rear touchpad doesn’t feel any different than it does on the original Vita.

The sides of the Vita Slim offer some additional changes to the design of the original Vita, one of which we’re extremely pleased to see is the inclusion of a microUSB port at its bottom, which replaces Sony’s proprietary Vita connector. We can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to not have to lug around a specific cable in order to charge the Vita. Now, we can use one of the many microUSB cables lying around. The bottom also includes the Slim’s 3.5mm headphone jack and a port to install one of its proprietary memory cards.

The top of the Slim has also been changed as it no longer has a silver strip that surrounds the complete outer portion of the Vita. Instead, the surrounding area is completely black and the buttons have been made slightly smaller and raised up, allowing easy access to them at a moment’s notice. The middle of this area only includes a port where users can place their physical Vita games into. For some reason, Sony has decided to do away with an additional proprietary port that was found next to this area with no mention what it was for or why they removed it from the Vita Slim. There are also two LED indicators located next to the Slim’s power button, which is used to inform the user of the Vita’s status.

How does it feel?

I’ve been using my Vita ever since it was first released back in 2012 and I can tell you the Vita Slim feels much lighter and more comfortable in my hands. The Slim feels exceptionally lighter than the original Vita and its slimness is always very noticeable as my hands feel like they melt around the handheld. I always felt like I couldn’t get completely comfortable with the Vita due to its weight, larger rear touchpad and thickness, but the Vita Slim feels very comfortable when it’s in use. Its lightness is also appreciated as it saves me precious weight in my bag whenever I travel.

Controllers (largely unchanged)

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The controls of the original Vita have, for the most part, been unchanged for the Vita Slim. The directional pad, analog sticks and face buttons all feel the same as the previous Vita. The one area most will notice a difference between the two is the fact the Vita Slim has more grip to it thanks to the change in its overall texture. The Slim is certainly less slippery than the original Vita, which helps in those of us with butter fingers fumbling it less.

The only buttons that look like they received an upgrade are the Slim’s L and R shoulder buttons. They feel slightly slimmer and closer to the Slim, which helps them feel more secure when pressing them as the original Vita’s shoulder buttons felt wobbly.

Another area we mentioned changed in the Slim is its rear touch panel, which now has larger areas where your hands can land on. This makes it more difficult to accidentally press the rear touch pad, although at the same time, there have been moments where I feel like I’m reaching with my hands in order to issue a command using the panel.

Filed in Featured >Gaming >Reviews. Read more about PlayStation, PS Vita and Sony.

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