For the handheld gamers of 2011 and beyond, this is the big question: PS Vita or 3DS? The DS triumphed over the PSP in 2005 with far more units sold and a more expansive software library, but Sony managed to stay in the game with respectable sales numbers. Compared to bygone systems like the Atari Lynx, Sega Game Gear and Nokia N-Gage, all felled by the mighty Game Boy, the PSP was a resounding success.
The PS Vita and the 3DS are set to lock horns just like their predecessors did, with each company sticking to basically the same strategy they used in 2005. The PS Vita boasts more power with its quad-core processor, 3G connection capability, two touch inputs, GPS and a higher resolution display. The 3DS, like the DS before it, has a new feature that sets it apart: glasses-free 3-D on its top display. Once again, the bottom screen accepts touch inputs. With the DS, Nintendo did a poor job of incorporating online gaming and e-commerce. Compared to the PlayStation Network Store, Nintendo's DSiWare shop was a weak online portal for games. It launched years after the DS first hit the market and presented strict file size restrictions [source: NintendoLife]. Nintendo plans to rectify that problem with its eShop, a revamped portal for downloads. Once the PS Vita and 3DS spend a few months on the market at the same time, the quality of the superior online marketplace should shine through.
Simply judging by the control inputs offered by both systems, the PS Vita has the potential to deliver a wider variety of gaming experiences. Both systems have an analog stick, face and shoulder buttons, a touch screen, and accelerometer and gryroscope sensor packages. But the PS Vita offers a second analog stick and a second touchpad on the back of the device. Once again, only time will tell just how useful those extra inputs are to the handheld gaming consumer. Despite having less power-packed hardware than the PSP, the original DS received superior software support and had the backing of Nintendo's first party games like Nintendogs and Mario Kart. Either Sony will triumph with superior hardware, or history will repeat itself with a very familiar PS Vita versus Nintendo 3DS battle.