PSP or PS Vita – Which is Better for Linux?

vita1The PlayStation Portable (PSP) is a fantastic handheld console that I enjoy greatly. As one use, its large screen and quality sound makes for an excellent music player. With the newer PS Vita in my possession, would the Vita be any better?

Which system offers better Linux compatibility for transferring files, such as music and movies? The PSP or the Vita?

After extensive Vita usage, my Vita hopes were dashed into micro-fragments, and I found myself more appreciative of the PSP than ever before.

Here are my opinions of this technically advanced paperweight that prospective Vita owners should at least be aware of before purchase. You know…the stuff “they” fail to prominently reveal in the advertisements.

Quick Answer

“Is the PS Vita compatible with Linux?”

No. The PSP is a superior choice. The rest of the article explains in detail.

The Models Chosen

The Vita of choice for this article is a new Lime Green and White PS Vita Slim. I chose the Lime Green / White color scheme simply because it looks clean. Black collects too much dust and tends to appear ugly over time.


Lime Green White PS Vita. PCH-2000. Cradle is a plastic cradle that was scavenged from something else.

The PSP is a 3001 model.


Comparison with 3001 PSP. Both are about the same size and weight, but the Vita is slimmer and slightly larger.

Even though I am demonstrating a white PS Vita, the same thoughts should apply to any slim Vita regardless of color.

The Positives

Let’s begin with the positive points. This will be quick since there are not that many in my opinion.

Superb, Bright, Colorful Display

The larger 960×544 display is sharp, crisp, colorful, and beautiful to look at. The slim Vita’s display might not be OLED, but it is still impressive compared to the 480×272 PSP–and a Nintendo 3DS in my opinion. The first thought was “Wow!” when I turned on the Vita. Not a complex thought. Just “Wow!” I was impressed with the display. Immediately, the PSP appeared dated as far as the display goes.

By comparison, the PSP-3000 screen displays what looks like “interlacing lines,” and these “lines” are non-existent on the Vita. If there is one good thing that can be said about the Vita, it will involve the screen’s beauty.

The Vita screen is also touch-sensitive for those who enjoy poking at things, but most Vita interfaces and games allow the buttons to control the cursor as well. This way, you can avoid messy finger grease trails from smearing the view.

Appearance and Style

Curves. Sleekness. Light weight. This is a vast improvement over the PSP. The console feels like a technical marvel of a full-fledged console in the hands, and it is comfortable to hold.

As for weight, it feels like it weighs the same as a PSP-3000 in my hands. I cannot tell much of a difference between the two.

The back of the handheld is touch-sensitive also, but accidental touching was never an issue.

The only downside (and it is minor) would be that the Vita feels slightly too big and bulky given its larger size. I prefer holding the smaller PSP, but the Vita is satisfactory.

Pause and Switch Apps

Suppose you are stuck within a game and you wish to look up a walkthrough on the Internet to figure out the solution to that silly puzzle that makes no sense and seems to have been added to give a sorry game some semblance of substance.

What do you do? No, there is no need to close the game or go to a computer. From within the Vita, you can pause the game, open the built-in web browser, and look up the walkthrough. When you return to the game, it will continue from the point you left off. There is no need to close the browser either. If you forget the walkthrough description, simply switch back for another peek at the cheat sheet.

You can open and switch among several different apps on the Vita just as you can on a computer. While app-switching is limited to a degree, this is a noticeable advantage over the PSP where everything was performed one at a time. With the Vita, you can pause a game, open a video clip, listen to some music, and then return to the game simply by switching among them using the Home button.


Here, we see the PS Store, Settings, and Music player open at once. This is the selection screen that appears when the Home button is pressed. (The Home button is located below the left analog stick, and it has the PlayStation logo.)

Better Video Format Support

The PSP would play videos, but most often, those videos needed to be converted into PSP format involving obscure advanced command-line arguments regarding level 3 and such. The Vita will play most MP4 files without the need for conversion.

The Vita offers better video support, not the best. Many video files, such as MKV and AVI will not play. They require conversion into MP4 using a program such as HandBrake. Despite the still-limited video support, it is convenient to transfer an MP4 straight to the Vita for playback while the PSP still requires transcoding.

* * *

That is all for the benefits. Short, wasn’t it? Now, grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and get comfortable for the lengthy tirade of negatives.

The Negatives

Newer is not always better.

In many ways the PS Vita is comparable to the MiniDisc, the Super Audio CD, and DVD-Audio. The MiniDisc offered superior digital recording in an age of analog cassette tape, and both Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio offered superior audio playback over regular compact discs.

But where are they today? Despite their technical advantages, MiniDisc, Super Audio CD, and DVD-Audio were bestowed with many draconian restrictions that rendered them less usable than the existing technology. If a disc stores 24-bit digital music at 96 kHz, what good is it if playback is limited to a bundle analog cables? That is what CD’s did, and they sounded excellent…without the usability restrictions.

Enter the PS Vita. The Vita might be technically superior to the existing PSP, but the PSP is a more usable and accessible system. The Vita is an extremely controlled, restricted, over-protected device that makes doing almost anything with it a chore — especially if you are a Linux user.

Requires Proprietary Software to Use

Let’s begin with probably the biggest gripe for any serious Linux user: Mandatory, proprietary software.

Want to add music files to your Vita? Too bad. Sony found a way to make that simple task hard to accomplish. Why? Because the Vita is designed to operate with a Sony-approved program called Content Manager Assistant (CMA). CMA must be installed on your computer ahead of time, and it is only available for Windows and Mac. You guessed correctly: No Linux.

Without CMA, you cannot read or write anything from or to the Vita. Sony made sure of that.

PSP Transfers. With the PSP, file transfers are simple:

1. Connect PSP to Computer. (The PSP folder usually opens automatically.)
2. Drag and drop files

How easy is that? It did not matter if you were using Linux, Mac, or Windows. The PSP would work because the computer saw the PSP as a normal removable drive formatted as FAT32. In fact, you could plug the PSP into other devices, such as media players, and the players would read the PSP just like any other removable drive.

Vita Transfers. The Vita is the complete opposite. It operates similar to the iPod/iTunes arrangement, and even then, you are limited to what files you can transfer with the Vita and where to put them.

Now, with the Vita, we have a process that looks like this:

1. Connect Vita to Computer
2. Wait for CMA to detect Vita
3. Wait for the Vita to connect to the Internet, log in to PSN, verify your system, and then force you to update the Vita firmware if Sony deems it necessary.
4. Once Sony approves, go to the Vita and open the Content Manager app.
5. Manually select PC USB connection if using a USB cable. (Wi-Fi is also an option).
6. Navigate through a series of menus that permit you to transfer only certain file formats, certain Vita apps, and certain game data. Nothing else.
7. Wait for the slow transfer to complete.

This is a hassle. An annoying hassle. But worst of all, there is no room for Linux. Repeat: CMA supports Windows and Mac systems only. If you are using Linux, then too bad. You cannot transfer files to your Vita with Linux, and this is why I consider the Vita to be incompatible with Linux. This is a major downside for me.

There is an independent attempt to offer CMA-style communication on Linux using libVitaMTP, but, while promising, the software is in an early beta stage, and I had no success with it in Linux Mint.

What to do? I was forced to dredge up an old Windows 7 computer and connect it to a LAN just to transfer a few music files to the Vita. For some reason, I could not connect the Vita through VirtualBox. Others might have success, but I found it easier to use a physical computer.

I was aware of CMA before purchase, but I was mistakenly under the impression that CMA was optional, not a requirement. Oh, silly me.

No Linux Support

Let’s repeat it here: NO LINUX SUPPORT. As of this time, you cannot transfer files with the Vita using Linux.

CMA Requires Internet

CMA has to be one of the most evil programs developed. My last experience with Sony software left me with intensely sour feelings. I had forgotten those feelings until I launched CMA, and they came bubbling back to the surface like boiling cooking oil. I am certain that there is a programming book titled, “Programming for Dummies: How to Annoy Users and Alienate Buyers” because CMA confirms its existence.

Proprietary. Forced. Controlled. These are three words that spring to mind when using CMA. CMA requires a connection to the Internet, and besides adding yet another background service to Windows, it also refuses to allow any Vita file transfers without phoning home first.

If you do not have access to the Internet, or you cannot connect, or your Internet is down in your area, then too bad. No CMA for you, which means no Vita file transfers even if all you want to do is put a few local music files on your Vita.

This was exactly my situation, and it was frustrating because my Windows 7 computer had no Internet access. This forced me to set up and connect through a proxy running on a Linux system. Talk about an added hassle…just to copy a few music files. Why must I be forced to connect to the Internet just to transfer a few music files?

Sony, you are making me mad.

[Update: December 26, 2014] Two days following this post, the PlayStation Network (PSN) was taken down by what was most likely a planned, deliberate denial of service attack. As of this writing, PSN is still down.

This demonstrates how vulnerable the Vita is and how much the consumer is left to the mercy of Sony and the online philosophy without any fallbacks. All I want to do is transfer some more music from my local computer to the Vita, but as described earlier, CMA demands that it phone home first. However, in order to phone home, it must first sign in to PSN, which is down. So, because of Sony PSN servers being unavailable–a situation completely out of my control, I am unable to transfer a few music files to my Vita.


December 26, 2014. PSN down due to apparent DDoS attacks. This renders the Vita next to useless for local file transfers and any apps that require PSN connections. With the PS Vita, you can transfer files only when the hackers let you. The PSP is not affected by such problems.

By contrast, the PSP does not force silly online requirements like the Vita does, so even if the PSN servers are down, it is still possible to transfer files to the PSP since it does not require CMA.

This is the independent design the Vita should have used. As such, the Vita is completely dependent upon CMA and PSN. If either one does not work, then too bad for you.

In my opinion, this is Sony’s fault. Sony’s drive for over-protective, mandatory controls on the Vita leave little room for errors at chokepoints such as this.


December 27, 2014. If a product requires an online connection for almost everything it does (regardless of the logic in that design decision), then the product will be practically unusable if the required network goes down. If PSN is down, then the Vita is next to useless aside from what is already on the system.

I have a programming tutorial video (transcoded on my computer, ready to view) that I would like to watch on my Vita, but until Sony fixes the PSN, I cannot transfer it to the Vita. I fail to see the logic in that design decision. The PSP suffers no such design handicaps, so it will play the video regardless of the state of PSN.


Forced Updates

Upon making the initial connection to the Internet, the Vita demanded that I perform a mandatory firmware update. What? All I want to do is listen to some music on my Vita? Why is this necessary? The PSP never required an update to transfer and listen to music.

Progress halted until I agreed to the update. (Did I really have a choice?) After updating the Vita–a process that took about three and a half hours given my slow proxy connection, the Vita rebooted and connected to CMA again.

Forced PSN Sign-In

So, can I transfer my music yet? No, not yet. CMA now wants me to create a PSN account and log into it. What? Again, why is this necessary?

It seems like every step is met with a new hoop to jump through. URG! I am becoming more than frustrated at this point, and “Sony” is becoming a four-letter word.

So, I finished this task with a none-too-happy face, and I was finally allowed to transfer some music to the Vita…after switching through a series of menus that took a while to become accustomed to. No simple drag and drop like the PSP.

(Ironically, I was listening to music on my PSP as I did this.)

Forced Advertisements

Is it just me, or does the file transfer seem slow? Anyway, after the few music files transferred to the Vita, my mood improved slightly as I was looking forward to hearing the sound quality.

I disconnected the Vita from the computer, prepared for some listening enjoyment, and…WHAT’S THIS?! ADVERTISEMENTS?

I pressed the Home button to open the app-switcher (or whatever it’s called on the Vita), and there were three ads located in a row at the bottom of the scene. “Oh, Sony!” <– There is that four-letter word again.


“Waiter! There’s an ad on my Vita!” The three banners shown at the bottom of the Vita’s display are advertisements. They appeared after I had connected using CMA. Even now, they persist without any way to remove them. Clicking one goes to a product web page begging for money. The PSP never did this.

These were not present before. Ah, ha! So, that’s why Sony demands an Internet connection and a PSN sign-in (among other reasons).

How intrusive. I hate ads. Especially ugly, forced ads on a snazzy portable system centimeters from my face. I feel contaminated–similar to mud flicked into the eyes. Regrettably, there is no way to remove them as far as I can tell. The surprises I keep receiving from the Vita go from bad to worse. Kind of like a plugged up toilet — You just pray nothing more is going to happen. Just as I think things are looking up, Sony slaps an ad in my face to let me know that Sony is in control of my system.

The momentary joy I beheld was just that: momentary. At this point, I was tempted to solve the Vita annoyances with a patio brick.

    Messy and Yucky! When connected to the Internet, the Vita plasters the Videos start page with advertisements.

Messy and Yucky! When connected to the Internet, the Vita plasters the Videos start page with advertisements.

Sidenote: Removing the Ads from the Videos Start Page

Notice the ads in the picture above? Videos is normally clean and ad-free, but if you open Videos at least one time when the Vita is connected to the Internet, then it will automatically download and display ads. You have no say over this, and the ads persist across Vita reboots even when not connected to the Internet.

Thankfully, there is a trick to remove these ads from Videos and return to a clean display.

1. Disconnect the Vita from the Internet, and put the Vita in Flight Mode.

2. Go to Settings and choose Language.

3. In the Language page, select a different System Language and switch to it. The Vita will warn about closing open apps. This is good, and we want this to happen. Choose Yes.

Those annoying, messy, cluttered ads on the Videos start page can be removed by switching to a different System Language.

Those annoying, messy, cluttered ads on the Videos start page can be removed by switching to a different System Language.

If you open Videos now, you will see that the ads are gone.

4. Switch back to your preferred language.

Ads begone! Just don't open Videos while connected to the Internet.

Ads begone! Just don’t open Videos while connected to the Internet.

The Videos app will remain ad-free until the next time you open Videos when the Vita is connected to the Internet. The ads will return. The best solution is to keep Videos closed during Internet usage, but if you forget and the ads return, then repeat the process to remove them again.

This only works for the Videos start page. The three horizontal ads that appear at the bottom of the screen when the Home button is pressed persist.


The trick above does not remove these ads.

So-So Music Player

I finally played some music. Simple music. Music I like. Actually, just one music file, but, wow, did I have to work for it! On the bright side, I was pleased with the sound quality. However, the player itself was inferior to the PSP music player. I could not skip tracks using the shoulder buttons. Instead, I had to poke at the screen like a newborn monkey just to change tracks. This means leaving fingerprints over that good-looking, expensive display.

Sound quality is top-notch, and it features a built-in equalizer with a few presets just like the PSP. However, the PSP music player offers superior controls and visualizations, and the PSP even offers an alternative music player, called SensMe, that allows scrolling through tracks in a coverflow style. The Vita does none of that. All it provides is a linear menu with album art.

I feel disappointed at this point since I had to jump through so many hoops to get to this stage.

Enough of that. Let’s talk about another major gripe I have with the Vita…

Expensive, Proprietary Memory Cards

What? You say you have a new 128 GB micro SD card that plays well in your PSP? Too bad. It will not work with the Vita.

Instead of the user-friendly route, Sony forces you to purchase custom memory cards whose sole purpose in life is to fill the bottom Vita slot.


PS Vita 16 GB card versus everyone else. It would have been much easier for me to use an existing micro SD card instead of needing to purchase another card. Micro SD cards are plenty fast these days at higher capacities and at lower prices than the PS Vita cards.

Worse yet, these cards are expensive compared to their equivalents in other formats. For example, a 16 GB Vita card costs about the same as a 64 GB SD card. And if you want a 64 GB Vita card, then it will cost you over half the price of a new Vita. Ouch!

The PSP uses Sony’s Memory Stick Pro Duo cards, but at least they could be reused in other products, such as cameras and camcorders. In fact, with an adapter, it is possible to use the versatile micro SD cards in the PSP for massive amounts of storage space cheaply.

Not with the Vita. Oh, nooooooo. Can’t have that. While the slim Vita includes 1 GB of built-in storage space, it fills up fast, making it next to useless. The Vita is designed with digital downloads in mind. These are the “downloads that fill up 1 GB before you know it” kind of downloads, so you will need a bigger card whether you want it or not. While you can backup downloads from your Vita to your computer in order to free up some space, you will need CMA to do it. And remember, CMA is in control of everything.

And to add another slap in the face, you cannot combine the 1 GB built-in memory with an external card. It is one or the other. So, if you purchase a horribly over-priced Vita card and plug it in, it disables the internal 1 GB memory. You cannot combine the two into, say, 17 GB (16 GB external + 1 GB internal).

Surveillance Cameras Galore

“We’ve got you covered from head to foot!”

Not sure what else to call it, but the Vita includes two built-in spy cameras. One is located on the front and the other is in the back. Hold it at the proper angle, and it should be possible to take a full picture of someone from top to bottom regardless of which side of the screen he is standing.

In this age of increasing surveillance, I do not care to have a camera pointed inches away from my face while I am playing a game or listening to music.

Given the forceful, controlling experience that I endured with CMA above and Sony’s past history involving rootkits, spyware, and failed computer security, I decided not to trust Sony with a camera. Sadly, there is no way to disable the cameras without grabbing a soldering iron and opening the Vita, but I found a way. It’s called black electrical tape, and it is highly effective.

Yes, you read correctly. The shiny Vita surface has its ergonomics accentuated with tape over the cameras. Thank you, Sony.

Touch Screen

After paying a significant amount of money for a Vita and admiring its technical architecture, the last thing I want to do is touch the screen, smear it up, or risk scratching it in any way. I need white gloves and a glass shrine for this device, so why ruin it by mashing around the screen like a rabid sewer rat?

While most menu navigations can be performed by the buttons, some games require awkward touching. That means fingerprints galore. Highly unnecessary in my opinion, so I consider the touch screen to be a negative.

Many smudges have been wiped from the Vita while the PSP remains clean.

USB Port at the Bottom

A micro USB port is located at the bottom of the Vita allowing a standard USB-MicroUSB cable to charge the battery and connect the Vita to a computer.

Sony seems to like proprietary hardware, so an industry standard port is a welcome sight. However, Sony managed to find a way to mess even this up by placing it at the bottom of the unit instead of at the top.

Why? Have a look at the picture.


The PSP rests neatly in a cradle while charging.


The PS Vita does not.

I find that a cradle is perfect for holstering the PSP during charging and data transfers because it holds the screen at a decent angle for viewing. By placing the USB port at the top of the PSP, the PSP remains in place. But the Vita…Oh, brother.

Small Buttons

The Vita buttons feel snappy and responsive. I like them. However, they are too small. Many times I have accidentally mashed two or more buttons together by accident or pressed the wrong one. Maybe time will adjust, but the PSP, with its larger buttons, is better suited for intensive, trigger-finger gaming moments. My PSP has taken quite a beating over the years, and it continues to perform like a champion. The Vita…I am not so sure…yet.

Another gripe is the right analog stick. It is in the way of the right four buttons. When pressing X, I almost always find it uncomfortably located under my thumb and often prevents me from fully pressing X when I want to.

No LocationFree Compatibility

LocationFree is streaming audio and video using Sony’s LocationFree base station. The idea is that you connect a video/audio source into the base station which then streams the signal to a PSP or computer so you can watch programming remotely. Whatever it is–DVD, CD, TV, Blu-Ray, Media Players, security cameras–you can watch it on your PSP provided you use a composite, S-Video, or component video signal. You can even control the device’s remote control via the PSP interface. It’s quite fun to tinker with, actually.

While the video quality is only fair and audio quality is highly compressed, it works. However, as far as I can tell, the Vita does not support LocationFree. If it does, I have yet to find it.

If you want to use LocationFree features on a handheld, then you must use the PSP.

No Video Output

The PSP offered component video output for connection to an external television. No such port is present on the Vita, so you are confined to the Vita’s screen. While the TV output was probably not useful, and Sony did ruin the experience by forcing a thick, black border around the television image during games, it was a novel feature to play with at times.

Few Worthwhile Games

Is there anything the Vita can do right? Let’s look at the games. After all, this is a portable gaming system, so surely it plays games well, right?

Wait a moment. The games. Where are the games? Not digital downloads, but games in a box. Something you can hold in your hand and give you that feeling of owning a tangible object.

I looked through the entire Vita library, and I saw only two that looked semi-interesting enough to play. Online with the PlayStation Store, the selection was larger but even more uninteresting and more expensive than the few games the local stores offered. Online contained mostly indie games and past classics that I already have on their original discs. Why buy something I already have?

No matter the specifications, a gaming system is only as good as the games it offers, and I could find only a handful of Vita games that appeared to offer limited interest for my valuable time.

This is not good for the Vita. The Nintendo 3DS, by comparison, has loads and loads of interesting games that make me scream, “Daddy, buy me this one!” Mario. Donkey Kong. Zelda. You name it. Nintendo has a wide selection for almost everyone. But most importantly, Nintendo games look like fun!

Fun. That is a word seldom used to describe the plethora of dark and gritty games available. Nintendo games appear bright and cheerful…and fun. Even the colorful Nintendo box covers look happy and make me smile.

Where is that sense of excitement for the Vita?

Used Games Remember You

While on the subject of games, the Vita presented a new scenario that I had not encountered before involving used games.

It seems that the Vita wants to associate the physical games you purchase with your PSN account. If you transfer your game to another user or console whose PSN account is different, then he will be in for a surprise.

This happened to me. Not wanting to pay the ridiculously high price of a certain Vita game, I found it used for a much lower price. When I started it up, I was greeted with a warning message to let me know that it was in an unfamiliar Vita console. As a result, I would not be able to take full advantage of the features until I performed a complete deletion of the game and all of its associated data from my system (which happened automatically as a result of inserting the game into the Vita in the first place).

How devious! Apparently, the Vita game cards contain non-volatile memory that records user information and user accounts in addition to save data. I view this as an intrusive layer of control.

Once I deleted the previous user and all existing save data from the game card, I was then allowed to play the used game in its entirety with full features. How kind.

No More YouTube App (Update for January 29, 2015)

One saving grace for the Vita was the downloadable YouTube app for watching YouTube videos. The Vita might be an onerous chore with which to do anything else, but at least we could watch YouTube videos in a fast, convenient player on the Vita. This made the Vita an excellent YouTube viewer and gave the Vita at least one redeemable feature.

But no more. It has been announced that the YouTube app is no longer available for download, and it will be unsupported this Spring. There is even a warning message that appears on the YouTube app start page.


Do you like the Vita’s YouTube app? Yes? Well, that’s too bad. It will be removed eventually.

Oh, sure. You can still use the slow, clunky built-in web browser to access YouTube, but it is nowhere near as convenient or as easy to use as the dedicated YouTube app.

As time progresses, it seems that every announcement involving the Vita is a negative one that further quells any enthusiasm about owning one.

Extra Thoughts

I have read many vitriolic articles regarding the Vita, and I thought, “Surely, the Vita cannot be as bad as that.” After using the Vita for myself, I can report from my experience that the Vita IS as bad as that and deserves every piece of negative bashing that it receives.

Based upon my usage with the Vita, Sony apparently holds distrust, disregard, and paranoia towards its consumers given the amount of controls placed on the Vita. Never have I used a device implementing so many stiff procedures that seem to monitor my every move and control my very usage. What I think should be easy often turns out to be an involving ordeal. Nothing is simple, and every step feels like another hurdle to overcome. For example: Transferring music files? You need CMA, an Internet connection, a PSN account, and a Windows or Mac computer. By comparison, the PSP simply connects to any computer without a fuss — including Linux.

Performing the functions I wanted to perform the most–transferring music and video files–was a tedious, time-consuming chore. With the PSP, it was a simple connect and go. With the Vita, I have to turn on at least two computers, transfer music files from one to another over a LAN, connect the Vita to a Windows 7 computer that then connects to the Internet via a proxy, sign in to PSN using CMA, and then–surprise, surprise–endure a lengthy and forced update…and who knows what other private information is being transferred behind the scenes.

I greatly enjoyed the PSP and had high expectations for the Vita, but those expectations were sadly crushed. Given the micro-level of control and regulations surrounding the Vita, lack of quality games, proprietary (expensive) memory cards, and used game concerns, it seems like Sony is going out of its way to ensure that the Vita fails in the marketplace. All of the Vita’s system protections interfere with usability.

Compared to countries, the PSP would be 1950’s West Germany, and the Vita would be 1950’s East Germany–complete with the Stasi monitoring every action performed on the device. Neither country was perfect, but one country was more free and friendly to its populace than the other.

I so much wanted to like the Vita (and I do to a limited degree), but it falls short of the usability of the older PSP. Aside from a few exceptions countable on one hand, Vita games that interest me are vastly inferior to the offerings of the Nintendo 3DS or even the older PSP itself. While a few games are Vita-exclusive, many others are cross-platform, so why bother owning a Vita to play them aside from portability? There is also RemotePlay, but I was unable to test that feature. The Vita is certainly a powerful piece of hardware with a gorgeous screen, but even that does not save it from poor usability due to an over-protected system.

Where Are the Vitas?

The Vita seems to be disappearing like morning fog. From my observations of people in person who owned handheld consoles, out of 36, only two used Vitas. The other 34 used Nintendo 3DS systems. It seems everywhere I go, when I see the 15 – 20 age group playing on handhelds, I always see the Nintendo 3DS and Mario. Never a Vita.

Retail stores seem to confirm this. Shelves are packed with the latest Nintendo 3DS games, but the Vita is practically nonexistent. Last I checked (a few days ago), stores in my area were beginning to discontinue the Vita system. In fact, Vitas were not even on the shelf anymore in one major retailer.

No, the Vita was not sold out. It was removed. Its price tag and shelf space had been completely obliterated from the aisle. Only eight or nine Vita games remained in the bargain corner–you know, that smelly, dimly-lit part of the store at the back–and those “bargain” Vita games were still too expensive for my taste. However, the shelves were bursting at the bolts with Nintendo 3DS games.

Would Could Improve the Vita?

It might be too late, but it never hurts to suggest improvements anyway. From my perspective, I can think of two improvements to the Vita that would make me much more happy with the device:

1. Plug and Play File Management

If the computer would see the Vita as an external drive like it does the PSP, then many problems would be solved. Think about it:

  • Linux compatibility.
  • No need for CMA.
  • No need for an Internet connection.
  • Immunity from PSN server downtime.
  • No need for a PSN log-in.
  • No need for Windows 7.
  • No more forced, mandatory updates that seemingly take hours over a slow connection.

These would be a major improvements in my book. Let the online connectivity be optional, not forced “My way or the highway” requirements. I can live with a sub-par music player on the Vita, but CMA and Linux-incompatibility are deal-breakers for me.

2. Micro SD External Storage

Eliminate the proprietary memory card! Use a versatile micro SD card so I need not purchase yet another proprietary accessory. Let me use what I already have instead buying yet another tiny card whose compatibility is tied to one device.

However, I doubt these changes will happen since they would significantly reduce the amount of control Sony has over the Vita. As it is, the Vita remains an expensive piece of locked-down, proprietary, Linux-incompatible electronics…but it’s pretty to look at.


Seeking a Vita? Think twice. It appears to be a dying console from what I can tell. Even if you can find one, the Vita is still expensive despite the recent price drop and lack of popularity.

Advantages, such as the brilliant display, make the Vita worthwhile at first, but after time, the annoyances catch up to the point of thinking, “The Vita is too much hassle to use.” In practical, everyday usage, I found it much more convenient to reach for the PSP than to fight the Vita. Want to watch Big Buck Bunny? After conversion, it only takes a few seconds to begin watching it on the PSP, but doing the same on the Vita becomes a time-wasting, onerous chore.

The conclusion is unanimous for me: The PSP is far superior for Linux. The Vita does not even enter the playfield, and thus, it loses from the start.

To summarize this lengthy diatribe: The PSP feels more friendly towards its user, it offers a better music player, it provides a better XMB user interface that does not require finger-poking, and it is compatible with Linux.

These are game devices, and like all games, it is important to remember to have fun rather than becoming bogged down in console wars. If you like the Vita, then you should not be disappointed. But be aware of what you are getting into before purchase. The Vita might be “just a game,” but it is an expensive game to play so exercise careful consideration.

Have fun!

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