Sony’s PlayStation Vita represents the company’s second entry into the volatile handheld gaming market. The original PlayStation Portable found reasonable success as a largely traditional system, with console-style games being bought in boxes from stores just like other PlayStations, but the portable gaming market has changed in the six years since that console launched. With $0.99 smartphone apps like Angry Birds satiating the boredom of many commutes, just how much appetite there is for a "full" on-the-go gaming experience is debatable. Sony's answer? Pack as much as it can into a single device, and price it starting at $249.99.

On paper, the PS Vita is an astonishing piece of hardware, with a quad-core processor powering nearly PS3-level graphics on a 5-inch AMOLED touchscreen backed up by two analog sticks, a touch-sensitive back panel, and a smartphone-style OS. It's a confusing prospect — a dedicated gaming handheld with a lot of features taken from devices that have caused people to question the need for dedicated gaming handhelds in the first place. "Vita" means "life", but will there be a place in yours for Sony's latest creation? Let's find out.

Note: This review was originally for the Japanese version of the PlayStation Vita, but we've since updated several sections to reflect the US variant as well. In particular, check out the Connectivity section for impressions of the AT&T 3G model. We've also added a video review just below!