Poor battery life may just be the PlayStation Vita's biggest problem

Poor battery life may just be the PlayStation Vita's biggest problem

Summary: Bigger screens and more processing power continue to pose problems for the portable gadget. And the Vita is no exception.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware
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Life has become an uphill struggle for dedicated gaming portables. But while the market hasn't been been especially kind to the likes of Sony and Nintendo, a large part of the blame for those troubles lies in the decisions of Nintendo and Sony themselves.

Consider, for example, the latest information to emerge about the PSP Vita, Sony's upcoming (and delayed in the U.S.) portable. First, Sony says that using the Vita, which has no on-board memory, will require owners to purchase its propriety memory format for game saves. A 32-GB version of the new memory card will run for roughly $124, more than double the price of the average comparable SD card. Potential Vita owners are understandably upset by this news.

Then comes the console's estimated battery life. Similar to the numbers on the original PSP, Sony says that the Vita will offer 3 to 5 hours of gaming on a single charge, with video playtime erring on the higher end of that estimate. Like most battery life estimates, of course, those numbers assume that players will have the console's screen brightness set to the default, and Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 4G turned off. So they are fairly flawed estimates, all told.

Are you starting to see the problem here?

The power demands of portable consoles are starting to outpace the capacity of the batteries that fuel them. The battery issue has long been a problem for portable electronics, but nowhere is more clear than with the latest portable consoles. While owners of smartphones with especially large screens (see: HTC's EVO 3G) have also been privy to these issues, gaming consoles are different from smartphones in that they typically used for much longer spans of time.

Thus, a gaming console with four hours of battery life is effectively useless as a portable device, especially during long car trips and plane rides where no outlets are available. Worse is the period after the battery is completely drained. The Vita requires 2 hours and 40 minutes to charge completely.

Battery life has already proven to be a big issue with the 3DS as well, so much so that Nintendo bundled the device with a dedicated charging cradle. Nintendo estimates the battery life on the 3DS to be 3-5 hours with the console's 3D effect turned on. That playtime is bumped up to 8 hours when playing original, non-3D DS games. (In comparison, the battery on original DS lasted for up to 19 hours with the lowest screen brightness setting). So things have clearly gotten worse, not better.

But will battery life deter consumers from picking the Vita up? Considering that the original PSP offered similar battery numbers, and still sold fairly well, it's likely that gamers will take the plunge either way and just deal with the results. Nonetheless, battery life remains the biggest thing to worry about with the Vita, and just about every other portable gadget in 2011.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

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8 comments
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  • Vita will be the best graphical mobile device until Apple A6 will arrive

    Apple's A5 SoC contains PowerVR SGX543MP2, while Vita contains PowerVR SGX543MP4 -- four cores instead of two.

    Consider that PowerVR SGX543MP2 in A5 is three-to-five times faster than Tegra-2, or any TI or Qualcomm GPU. In fact, PowerVR SGX543MP2 die area in A5 alone is bigger than whole Tegra-2 SoC, so no wonder.

    And Vita has twice of that power. Until, say, iPad 3 will be released with Apple A6 chip (and iPhone 6 later), which might contain PowerVR SGX543MP4, Vita is going to be the best graphical device.

    So yes, gamers will bear with the short battery life.
    DDERSSS
  • replacable batteries

    I wonder where those have gone these days...
    cym104
  • RE: Poor battery life may just be the PlayStation Vita's biggest problem

    Latest news has it that the PS will be coming with an external back pack option that can last upto 7 hours.
    capaldi
    • RE: Poor battery life may just be the PlayStation Vita's biggest problem

      @capaldi How will that work with the touch control surface on the back of the Vita, though?
      NotEd3k
  • RE: Poor battery life may just be the PlayStation Vita's biggest problem

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  • RE: Poor battery life may just be the PlayStation Vita's biggest problem

    I guess you've never heard of a travel charger? I can maybe understand the plane (if only because I haven't been on one in forever and don't remember what options, if any, you have for power), but you should never run out of power in a car. Hell, nowadays they litter cars with those cigarette lighter outlets, specifically for travel chargers. It's not like they're limited to gaming devices either. I don't charge my iPod at my house. I do it in my car on the way to work.

    Not to mention secondary/backup battery accessories seem to be pretty common nowadays anyways.
    Aerowind
  • RE: Poor battery life may just be the PlayStation Vita's biggest problem

    How come the Vita has the same "Charge Me Now" screen as an iPhone?

    HAHAHAHA!

    In all seriousness, though, this is an interesting article. Everyone wants bigger, brighter screens, faster processors, more memory, higher-res cameras, faster networks, etc., but they gripe when battery life is sub-par. I agree with @aerowind on this one. Get a travel charger.

    The price of that proprietary memory is outrageous. One reason I never really owned a Sony camera. They need their heads examined! Why wouldn't they just let people use SD? Stupid, stupid Sony.
    heymatthew
    • RE: Poor battery life may just be the PlayStation Vita's biggest problem

      @heymatthew The memory card definitely is a screw up. They should have at least used the same memory stick as the PSP.
      Aerowind