Atma Xplorer

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[Head to Head] PlayStation Vita vs Nintendo 3DS

The next generation of portable consoles is finally here  and we’re going to pit them against each other so you can decide for yourself which system you’ll be investing in or at least upgrading to if you already have a PlayStation Portable or Nintendo DS under your belt.

Disclaimer: Yes, comparing these systems are like comparing apples to oranges, one is not explicitly better or worse than the other (despite what some people will vehemently say) so this post is more of a comparison what you’ll be getting with each system.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get this head to head started.

PlayStation Vita vs Nintendo 3DS

For starters, you can view the details page for each portable here: PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS.

The hardware

PlayStation Vita:

In terms of hardware, the Vita is simply the most powerful portable gadget in the market.  Powered by a 4 core ARM Cortex™-A9 core coupled with a 4 core SGX543MP4+ GPU, the Vita can pump out near PS3 level details at the cost of battery life that’s a bit shorter than the current PlayStation Portables.

Aside from the powerhouse combo of it’s internal computing capabilities, the Vita also has a plethora of control paradigms for developers to take advantage of:

  • Dual Analog nubs, by default the second nub maps to camera controls for PSP games (as seen here)
  • 5″ OLED multitouch screen
  • Rear Multi touch pad
  • Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), Three-axis electronic compass
The Vita is also well equipped for communication, whether or nor you’ll be getting the WiFi or 3G+WiFi version:
  • Mobile network connectivity (for the 3G model
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1
The downside of course if you have invested in the PlayStation Portable’s UMD library is that you don’t automatically have access to your games.  More on that later.
From the various reviews of people who couldn’t wait and already got their Vita consoles, the Vita feels less plasticky and offers a more solid grip compared to the flatter PSP-2000/PSP-3000.

View the full spec list of the Vita here.

Nintendo 3DS:

Compared to the Vita, the 3DS feels like a major bump to the current Nintendo DS console (as of last iteration, it popped out the Nintendo DSi and DSi LL).  When put beside the DSi, the 3DS has the following up it’s sleeve:

  • Slidepad to replace the Dpad
  • A larger 3.53″ top screen and with an liquid crystal display of 800 x 240 pixels and is capable of displaying glasses-free 3D
Like the Vita, the 3DS also incorporates motion-related controls:
  • Motion sensor
  • Gyro sensor

Nintendo is mum on the hardware used for the CPU and the GPU of the 3DS sadly :/.

Again from the various reviews floating around, while heftier, the 3DS feels a whole lot better than former DS iterations.  The circle pad is a bit more accurate than the d-pad but it could be better (think of the Vita’s analog nubs).

View the full spec list of the 3DS here.

Advantage: PlayStation Vita

The Games

PlayStation Vita:

The Vita is backwards compatible with PlayStation Portable titles that are on the PlayStation Store.  If you have the physical copies of games, as mentioned earlier, you can’t automatically have them work with the Vita and you have the option of registering to the UMD Passport Program to avail of your current library’s digital versions at discounter prices.  Yes, sadly you’ll have to rebuy your games.  Do note that the games are bound by Sony’s new policy for PS Store downloads, effectively limiting activation to just 2 systems.

If you did invest in games on the PlayStation Store, all you need to do is download them on to your pricey Vita memory stick via the media manager or your PlayStation 3.

The Vita is not region locked and you can play games from ANY PS Store region.  You may have to format your memory stick for it but it’s technically region-free.

Nintendo 3DS:

Like the DSi before it, the 3DS will work with ALL releases in the Nintendo library regardless of release date.  The downside is that some downloaded titles (if you purchased/they were rewarded to you via the eShop/DSi shop) are locked to a single console (ergo aren’t transferrable even if you’re using the same account for your 3DS).  This limitation doesn’t apply to all titles mind you, but it’s still something to watch out for.

The 3DS is region-locked and will only work will games for the region that you bought your 3DS from.

Advantage: None. Vita wins for Region-free content, Nintendo 3DS wins for backwards compatibility at no extra charge.


PlayStation Vita:

3–5 hours of gameplay (no network, no sound, default brightness level)

Nintendo 3DS:

2 to 4.5 hours of gameplay

A video comparison can be seen here:

The video concludes as follows:

  • 3DS dies at 2 hours 35 minutes.
  • Vita dies at 3 hours 47 minutes.
  • PSP dies at 9 hours.

Advantage: Well really not sure as the Vita is constantly rotating it’s camera so it’s GPU is running a much larger load so I guess you can draw your own conclusion on this one.


PlayStation Vita:

Wi-Fi Model:
Japan: 24,980 yen
Europe: 249 Euro
US: 249 Dollar

3G Model:
Japan: 29,980 yen
Europe: 299 Euro
US: 299 Dollar

Nintendo 3DS:

Japan: 15,000 yen
Europe: 169.99 Euro
US: 169.99 Dollar

Advantage: 3DS hands down because the Vita’s price will always include the price of the Memory Sticks.

So which should I get?

The answer is entirely up to you.  If you’re looking for the cheapest system to invest into then you can’t really beat the 3DS.  The low entry point makes it a tempting gift for children and yourself.  If you’re looking for a system that has better games then the answer becomes a bit more convoluted.  Neither system can really replace the other and if price is not an issue, you simply go with the system that has the games you want to play.  Of course, the guys that’s stuck in the middle of this choice are Monster Hunter fans who are still waiting for the next english release of Monster Hunter.  Will the PlayStation get it’s MH fix first?  Or will the 3DS?

If you have thoughts, comments or suggestions, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments.

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  1. zetagear turon legacy January 13, 2012 Reply

    wish we have the best of 2 worlds in just one unit.

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