Gamers, rejoice! Sony PlayStation unleashed its newest hand-held video game console, the PS Vita, in-store and online yesterday. It's a major upgrade from the PlayStation Portable, but it comes at a pretty steep price -- the device retails for $250, which includes wi-fi access, and another 3G version of the console will be offered by AT&T for $299, which will allow gamers to play with other Vita owners. But in the age of iPhones, many consumers and critics are questioning whether it's worth spending this much for a device that has so many overlapping features with a smartphone.
Games for the Vita can be bought in stores, which will then be preloaded on tiny memory cards, or they can be downloaded through a Vita-installed blank memory card. Vita owners can also buy or rent movies and TV shows through the PlayStation store, and select free apps will be available as part of today's PlayStation Store update. Some of the most popular apps, including Facebook, are not yet available, but as of now Netflix, LiveTweet and Flickr can all be enjoyed on the console.
Some gaming critics are skeptical of the PS Vita, citing evidence from the console's release in Japan late last year (the amount of units sold during the second week of its release dropped by 248,000). Vita sales in Japan are not the only indication of a potential decline for the demand of handheld gaming consoles. The predecessor to the Vita, PlayStation Portable, also saw a recent decline in sales and Nintendo's 3DS suffered in sales until a substantial price drop in the cost of the device.
Sony hopes that the multipurpose Vita, with its camera, web browser, and video player, among other features, will draw more attraction from those who would normally overlook a handheld gaming device.
Do you think that handheld gaming consoles are still relevant in the age of smartphones? Are you excited for the Vita? Tell us in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen!