Oct. 18, 2011 at 11:00 PM ET
Sony has some news for gamers who've been waiting to get their hands on the PlayStation Vita. The powerful portable gaming gadget with two thumb sticks, two touch surfaces and a sprawling screen will arrive in North American stores on February 22, 2012.
Jack Tretton, president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, made the announcement at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco Tuesday. As previously announced, the Vita will run $250 for the Wi-Fi only model and $300 for the 3G/Wi-Fi model.
The machine — which is the successor to Sony's handheld PlayStation Portable gadget — will arrive in America two months after it hits Japan where it's scheduled to launch on Dec. 17.
Though Sony has yet to release the list of games that will be available for the North American Vita launch, it has said that 26 games will be available for the machine on the day it launches in Japan. And in today's announcement, Sony said that more than 100 games are currently in production.
In-Game editor Todd Kenreck and I have had a chance to get our hands on the Vita as well as some of the forthcoming games. Check out this link and the following video for some of our advance impressions.
No matter what, Vita will face plenty of competition and a hand-held gaming landscape in flux when it launches. The device will go up against Nintendo's portable 3DS machine — which plays games in 3-D without requiring special glasses — as well as smartphones and tablets — which have become increasingly popular as game machines.
In fact, when Apple recently revealed its news iPhone 4S, it placed particular emphasis on its game-playing abilities. Meanwhile, developers have been working to bring console-style gameplay and graphics to smartphones and tablets.
And some have wondered if the Vita might not flounder with its $250/$300 price tag and its expensive proprietary memory cards. Nintendo, after all, was forced to slash the price of its 3DS from $250 to $170.
But with Vita, Sony is gunning for consumers looking for a powerful game-centric machine. The Vita has a quad-core processor whereas, for example, the iPhone 4S only has a dual-core processor. More importantly for gamers, it comes with two thumb sticks so that it can reproduce console-style gaming in its smaller, portable size. And then there's that unusual back-side touch pad that, in conjunction with the front-side touchscreen, could make for some unique gameplay experiences.
Will Vita's power and collection of gaming features be enough to convince consumers to open their wallets up in a big way? We'll find out starting in February, but until then: What do you think? Will you pick up a PlayStation Vita?
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Winda Benedetti writes about games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things here on Twitter or join her in the stream here on Google+. And be sure to check out the In-Game Facebook page here.