The PSP was a good friend of mine. It traveled with me to Iraq, Afghanistan, and all the countries in between. We spent countless hours playing football, baseball, and soccer. We used the Force, solved puzzles, and watched movies. While out on a deployment, the PlayStation Portable – appropriately – feels like home. You can lose yourself in a game and forget for a moment that people are actually trying to kill you. Handheld gaming is portable magic that got me through a lot of bad nights.

Play something like Angry Birds just a few times, and it’s easy to understand how handheld gaming can grab you. Whether you’re arranging falling blocks or hunting monsters, the player is there, in the moment. It’s just you and the game. This intimacy of handheld gaming often goes overlooked.

If you remember staying up late playing Tetris on the original Nintendo Game Boy, collecting rings as Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Game Gear, or laying waste to bad guys in Syphon Filter on the PSP, you were probably excited about Sony’s release of the PS Vita.

On release day, I anxiously awaited the arrival of my own PlayStation Vita. I had purchased the system with Uncharted, ModNation Racers, and FIFA 2012. A few months later, the PS Vita is like sleeping with a really attractive person who just lies there. Sure, they’re beautiful, but there’s potential for so much more. The PS Vita has everything you could ever want in a handheld, but lacks the games to make it a truly amazing experience.

The Specs:

The Good:

The dual analog sticks allow for great control. And the display is amazing. It’s a big, five-inch touch screen that has rich colors and stunning picture quality:

Ridge Racer:

FIFA Soccer:

Ninja Gaiden: Sigma Plus:

Uncharted: Golden Abyss:

After playing the PS Vita, every other handheld experience feels incomplete. Every game feels like a console game, and there aren’t any other handhelds that match the PS Vita in this regard.

There is a native content manager that easily connects to a PC or Mac and makes transfer of video, pictures, and music a snap. For the less nefarious, access to the PlayStation Network allows you to rent new movies and TV shows.

The Bad:

The price. The Wi-Fi model runs $249 and the Wi-Fi/3G option costs $299 with a 3G data plan on top. While the system comes with an eight-gig memory card, consumers have to drop $100 on a 32-gig card if they want to put a lot of media on the PS Vita. And games hover between $50 and $60.

That’s a lot of scratch to drop on a handheld.

The rear touchscreen is great in theory, but – in practice – it just gets in the way.

There’s not a large selection of games for the device yet, and this is the one fact that will hold the PS Vita down. There are some good titles out there, just not enough.

The Final Verdict: