Let’s just get this out of the way here at the beginning. The Vita Slim does not feature the same OLED screen that it’s predecessor had. The original OLED screen was beautiful and very vibrant. In its place, the Slim is sporting a LCD display instead. From a technology standpoint, this is a step backwards, but it wasn’t a change for no reason: The LCD panel uses less power. We’ll talk more about that later.
The screen is not as vibrant as the original, but it’s still beautiful. Since picking up the Borderlands 2 bundle, I have played MLB 14 The Show, OllieOllie, Uncharted Golden Abyss, and FEZ, and I can tell you that there definitely is a difference between the two screens. The LCD in the Slim is not as bright as the OLED in the original, and the saturation of the colors is not as exaggerated. Some who have spent time with the original OLED might like this feature, and if you’ve never owned a Vita you won’t know the difference.
The Vita Slim’s body has undergone some major changes to improve comfort for the player. The first thing that you notice when you pick it up is the reduction in weight. The Slim is 1.4 ounces lighter than the original WiFi model, and more than 2 ounces lighter than the original WiFi+3G model. I bought the Vita when it was fist released, which meant getting a WiFi+3G unit. The difference in weight between the two is dramatic.
The second thing you notice holding the Slim after the weight is the just how comfortable this Vita feels, and that’s thanks to the thinner body and rounded edges. The photo above doesn’t do it justice. The new form factor is considerably thinner, but beyond how thin and light it is, the rounded edges make a difference I didn’t even know I wanted. The original Vita had edges that weren’t sharp, but after a couple of hours of play you could feel them and it was uncomfortable. The Slim takes away those edges and it makes a huge difference. The back touchpad has also been changed and the two indentations for your fingers have been moved inward toward one another. This results in slightly less area to touch, but a much more comfortable place for your fingers to go when not utilizing the touchpad.
Ports, Buttons, and Lights
More changes can be found in the ports on the Slim, both in the ones that are there and the ones that aren’t. If you own a Vita or have every done research on it, you’ll remember that there was a port on the top of the unit next to where the game cards go that no one ever knew what it was for? Yeah, that’s gone. Instead you just have the slot for the game cards centered in the top of the unit.
The charging port has also changed. When a company changes the charging port for a platform, some people see that as an opportunity for said company to make more money on accessories. I doubt if anyone will complain about this change. The original proprietary port is gone, replaced by a Micro USB port. This is great news if you take your Vita with you and forget the charger since Micro USB is a popular and most Android and Windows-based mobile devices use this connector type.
The gameplay buttons on the Vita Slim feel unsurprisingly similar to the original with the exception of the PS, Start, and Select. The previously oblong buttons have been replaced with larger circular buttons that are far easier to press without having to look for them. This is especially nice when you’re trying to take a screenshot (PS+Start). The new PS button has another change in that it is no longer backlit with blue and amber lights that pulse when you have notifications or while the system is charging. Instead there are now a pair of lights on the top of the unit next to the start button that will handle those duties. The reason I mention this is I have been distracted more than once by seeing the light flashing blue while I was playing a game, and found it annoying.
The reasoning behind moving to an LCD screen in this iteration of the Vita is an attempt to achieve longer battery life, and from what I’ve seen so far they achieved that goal. I got a max of 2.5-3.0 hours on my previous Vita. I can’t tell you exactly how long the Vita Slim’s battery lasts because it’s still going. I fully charged the unit yesterday and play for a couple of hours, left it in stand-by overnight, and played another 30-35 minutes on my lunch break today and I’m down to about 50%.
I’m a huge fan of handheld gaming for many reasons, and to me the Vita Slim is very nearly perfect. The only thing that keeps it from being perfect is the LCD screen, which as I’ve said didn’t stop me from trading my old Vita in toward the new one. Games look great on it and I can play them longer between charges, which is what I wanted. If a breakthrough happens and Sony can squeeze the same battery life out of a version that has an OLED display in it, it would be perfection itself. If you don’t own a Vita, now is a great time to pick one up. The Vita Slim is a great system and you get Borderlands 2 and an 8GB memory card bundled in with it.