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New Hardware on the Block

By Sam
New Hardware on the Block

Play Station Vita and Wii U

By Jeremy Thackray

The rumours have already begun to swirl about the next generation of consoles. What next? 3D as standard? Improved motion controls? Or just more graphical horsepower inside the box? Two new contenders are set to step into the ring; the PS Vita and the Wii U. Here is our insight into what they’ll offer:

Wii U

People doubted the Wii when it was first announced, thinking that motion controls were interesting, but a gimmick. It went on to break open lucrative new markets and to comprehensively outsell Microsoft and Sony's rival consoles. With the Wii U the doubt has returned, but there's plenty of excitement as well. 

The Selling Point:
That controller. It makes the Wii U something that can theoretically provide a whole new experience as well as being able to play core games.

Wii UThe console itself at last brings Nintendo into the HD age, with graphics capability supposedly beyond that of the PS3 and 360 – but the console doesn't matter. It's all about the controller, a sleek, tablet-like device with its own screen. If someone else wants to watch the TV, let them; you can switch to playing on the controller screen. If the TV is all yours, then the extra screen could be used for menus that would otherwise clutter the telly. Turn the controller to the left of the TV and you see what's to your avatar's left. It also has some backwards capability with the Wii motion controller. This all adds up to create an impressive box of tricks. 

The Supporters Say:
At last – HD graphics on a Nintendo console. This will bring in support from developers who had shunned the Wii and make Nintendo a favourite with the hardcore crowd again. On top of that, the controller's functions provide plenty of opportunity for innovative and unique game design.

The Doubters Say:
The controller is just an knock-off iPad that has to stay close to the console to work. The graphics will look old again once the 'PS4' and 'Xbox 720' are released. Isn't it all just another big gimmick? 

Release Date: Sometime in 2012... 

Price: Unconfirmed.


Play Station Vita

Where the Wii U touts innovative but untested technology, the PS Vita, Sony's new portable console, is all about using what works, then increasing it ten fold. The handheld has just about the same layout as a Playstation controller, but with touch screens as well. It looks similar to its predecessor, the Playstation Portable, but with an even bigger screen. The numbers behind it are very impressive. The graphics power is reportedly four times greater than the top mobile platforms, it has quad-core processors where dual-core mobiles are only just emerging and the five-inch screen runs at almost the same resolution as Call of Duty: Black Ops does on the PS3.

The Selling Point:
The Vita is a mighty big upgrade, with gorgeous graphics and beefier processing power.

Playstation VitaIf giddy talk of processor power and other technobabble doesn't interest you, the Vita also touts the sort of features we expect to see in our media gadgets, such as web browsing, Skype calls and GPS.  It's not a 'lifestyle' device like the iPhone, which many still name as its chief competitor, but the key advantage is its gaming prowess. The praise for that enormous screen has been overwhelming and the launch gaming line-up is equally exciting, with titles from franchises like Uncharted, Killzone, Call of Duty and LittleBigPlanet. This is one mean piece of kit.

The Supporters Say:
All the power of a home console in a device you can take anywhere. The Nintendo DS might get some good games, but the Vita will bring in AAA titles from the mega franchises.

The Doubters Say:
Handheld gaming is all about mobiles. There isn't enough demand for a gaming-oriented device in a time when smartphones and tablets can do games and a lot more besides. 

Release Date: In Japan for Christmas, 2012 for us Europeans.

Price: £229 (Wi-Fi); £279 (3G).


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