PS Vita Slim UK release date, price revealed: Is this Sony's last handheld console?

The Vita has been dogged by slow sales and a crumbling market. The rebooted version might tie in with the PS4, but can it convince consumers?

Sony has confirmed that its updated handheld gaming console, the PS Vita Slim, will be launching in the UK on 7 February for £180 with pre-ordering already an option.

The original console and its updated version (first launched in Japan at the end of last year) were applauded by critics but have failed to sell.

Sony’s last sale figures for the Vita came out in January last year (4 million units since a December 2011 launch) and they pale in comparison to those released by Nintendo for the rival 3DS (42 million global sales since a February 2011 launch; figures released in December 2013).

With sales like this, and with even Nintendo (the king of handhelds) suffering badly, it might be that the PS Vita Slim is Sony's last ever mobile device.

The Japanese company is no doubt hoping to cash in on the barnstorming launch of the PS4 (Sony has sold as many PS4s in less than two months as PS Vitas in more than year), trying to reel in new gamers with the boosted functionality offered when the handheld and home consoles are linked up.

The PS Vit Slim comes in six colours, but it's not yet known whether all will be availble in the UK.

As well as offering gamers PlayStation Plus (Sony’s paid-for subscription service that offers two free games per month) the Vita Slim also boasts Remote Play, a well-received feature that allows PS4 owners to stream games to their handhelds over Wi-Fi connections.

Compared to the original Vita the Slim has identical innards (an A9 processor, 512MB of RAM and 128MB of VRam) but is 15 per cent lighter, 20 per cent slimmer and has swapped the OLED display for an IPS LCD model.

This last change has annoyed some gamers as OLEDs are seen as visually superior to LCDs. However Sony says that there will be no noticeable difference between the two, and that the lower-powered LCD display will boost the Slim’s battery life to six hours.

The Slim also comes with 1GB of embedded storage (meaning gamers won’t have to immediately buy one of Sony’s expensive memory cards) and uses a Micro USB charger rather than a proprietary charger.

All in all the Vita Slim is an extremely attractive gaming package at a price that would've seemed a bargain a few years ago. Although the recent launches of the PS4 and the Xbox One as well as the lure of cheap smartphone games have certainly taken the shine off dedicated handheld consoles - with the Vita Slim it's hard to understand why.

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