There has been talk for a long time about a way to do a lot of things with the PS Vita. What are some of the things that people really want to do with it, or have changes to? Some people want to ditch the touch screens. Some people want more triggers on it, to enable true L2 and R2 play in games like PS One games or when using Remote Play for PS4 games. Others would like Sony to get rid of the auto-dim feature that dims the brightness of the screen every so many seconds. The list can go on and on.
Sony fixes some problems, but they can’t fix them all. Some people have to rely on third-party developers for that to work. That is where Game Tech has come in. They are a Japanese Gaming company that has recently gotten into the habit of developing new types of hardware. If you haven’t heard of them, you will have after today. Because a piece of hardware that they developed is what I’m going to be reviewing today.
Game Tech developed a piece of hardware for the PlayStation TV. This piece of hardware does what many people didn’t think anyone would do. It turns the PSTV into an over-sized handheld gaming system with full controller and trigger support, and does even more than just that. Without further delay, I present my official review of the Deka Vita 7!
The design style of this thing is very similar in looks to the Nintendo Wii U’s Gamepad. It is a little bigger than that device, but the overall shape and looks of it reminds me heavily of that. It has the same overall shape as a Vita, if it was a complete Oval instead of having ridges and smaller pieces where the triggers and corners are. The device’s dimensions brings us to the first important thing to note about the design: The LCD Screen.
The Deka Vita 7 is equipped with a 7-inch LCD Screen, which is a whole 2 inches larger than the screen on the PS Vita Slim. To bring a bigger comparison, this screen only 1 inch smaller than an iPad Mini and, when sitting next to a Vita, it looks huge. You can place an entire PS Vita Slim on top of this device and it only barely looks larger than just the screen this thing has. This is definitely the type of screen for someone who wants a bigger display or is more used to seeing bigger screens on TVs or on Tablets.
The rest of the front isn’t too much of a deviation from the standard Vita format. The D-Pad is to the left of the screen and the Face Buttons are to the right. The main differences between this and the slim are three things: Speakers, Start/Select Buttons, and the Home/Power Buttons. The speakers are above the D-Pad and Face Buttons, instead of below. The Start and Select buttons are vertical and more resemble the Start/Select buttons from the Vita 1000 than the Vita 2000. Another thing to note is that these Analog Sticks are much larger than the ones on the Vita and can be clicked for L3 and R3 functions.
The Power Button is on the front of the device, near the bottom-right corner of the screen. This is also where the Charging and Battery lights are to tell you if the system is still charging and if it’s on or off. Finally, the Home/PlayStation button. This is in the center of the system, below the screen. This is a bit different than the standard location of that button being below the Left Analog Stick.
The top of the system has most of the Media-oriented buttons on it. The first two buttons are Arrows and a Menu button. The Menu is DV7-specific and pulls up a variety of screen options, much like you’d find on a computer monitor. These functions control Language, Brightness, Contrast, Hue, and Saturation. Brightness changes as it would on a TV or Monitor. Not like it would change on a PS Vita system. You should bear that in mind before you start messing with those settings.
The other three areas on the top are dedicated to Volume and Power. There is a Slider that is used for volume control, rather than two buttons for volume. Then, you have a headphone jack to plug in earbuds or headphones for volume. Finally, there is a Power Port where you can use a PSTV/PSP power cord to charge the DV7’s battery.
The back is where things get interesting. First of all, the L1, L2, R1, and R2 buttons are back here as well as vents to fan out heat as you use the system. There are also small grip areas for your hands to fit comfortable. But the middle slot is where the most interesting place is. Here is where you stick your PSTV. This section has a battery that can be removed as well as ports for USB, HDMI, and a PSP/PSTV Power Input. The PSTV slides into these ports to be connected to the system and work.
The way they created this slot is very smart. You see, when you have a PSTV installed in this thing, the Vita Cart slot is right up at the top and easily accessible. That way, you don’t have to disassemble it if you want to change our retail PS Vita games. A smart decision on Game Tech’s part.
Now we should take a moment to talk about this HDMI Input on the back. As the developers stated, you can feed more than just the PlayStation TV into this device. If you have an appropriate female-to-female HDMI Coupling cable, you can feed any HDMI device into this. PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Windows PC, Wii U, iPad, the list goes on. Any HDMI device can be displayed on this device’s screen. It just won’t be able to be used as a controller for any of these, other than a PSTV and PS3.
That’s about it for the design. It is huge, but designed in a way that it feels comfortable in your hands, mostly thanks to the grip sections on the back and the placement of each of the buttons.
So how well does this monstrous PSTV -> Vita device perform? Pretty well, for the most part. When you first put the PSTV into the slot and boot the system up, it takes little to no time to start powering up your system and start displaying the startup images on the screen, past a specialized Deka Vita 7 logo popping up on the screen, much like the PlayStation symbol on the screen when you first boot up a PS Vita. After, a simple tap of the Home button, and you’re all set to go.
Let’s start by how it looks and sounds. The LCD screen displays the full PSTV display without any problems. How it looks is a little give and take. It definitely has a bit of a wishy-washy look to it. To draw a fair comparison, imagine what PSP looks like on the Vita and that is similar to how games look on the Deka Vita 7. There isn’t a whole lot of upscaling going on here, so some of the less-impressive titles look a little grainy. They still look nice, but it’s certainly noticeable and not anything like when you display a PSTV on an HD Monitor or TV.
The Audio, on the other hand, is quite impressive. The speakers built into the Deka Vita 7 are very powerful. Just turning the slider up a little bit is more than enough for anyone sitting and playing. At full volume, I could walk across the house, go into a room, and close the door and still hear it going. In summary, the speakers are pretty high quality and if you’re one who likes to listen to game music as you go around the house, then you’ll fall in love with those maximum volume settings.
There is only one thing I’ll note about the sound. Every so often, when the sound mutes for a while, the speakers will start to catch static noise coming in from the room around them. This isn’t nearly loud enough to overpower the speakers when audio does come on, but I noticed it quite a few times, noticeably during loading sequences or when I was sitting at the Live Area screen with the PSTV in. It was strange, to say the least. Kind of like how old PC Speakers used to pick up static.
The button input is done very well. Because of the bigger system, it feels more like you’re using a PS4 controller with the button input as opposed to a handheld system. The Analogs are about the same size as the analogs on a Dual Shock 4 and the triggers are the same way. The only thing that feels different is the D-Pad, which has a circle around it so it feels like one set of buttons instead of 4 separate buttons. Still, there are no complaints about the button input. It felt comfortable from the first time I used it.
Because of all of this, gameplay goes by very well. Without any input or audio lag, any game can be played comfortably. To test this, I played a couple music games and I had no problems with syncing my buttons to the audio.
Now, let’s talk about a few things that the Deka Vita 7 can do to create some fixes that some PS Vita fans have expressed interest in. First of all, since you are using a PlayStation TV in this device, you can still pair Bluetooth devices to it, including controllers. So, if you want to just prop the system up against something, you can lay back and control the PSTV with a DS3 or DS4 controller. This doesn’t disable the DV7’s controls either. It’s like both are connected at the same time.
The next thing to mention is that there is no hassle with the screen automatically lowering the brightness when you don’t input anything. As I write this review, I’ve had the DV7 on and running a game with no input for the past 30 minutes or so and it has yet to lower its brightness at all. This is very nice when you have a game with long cut scenes or you’re one of those people that sets games like Madden NFL 13 to Spectator Mode to enjoy watching a game.
A final thing to mention about the performance is the Battery Life. I did an extensive amount of testing on this feature. I let the battery charge to full power and then let it run and play like I’d normally use the PSTV to determine the exact battery life. Note that I left the DV7 connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot this entire time and played a combination of Vita and PSP games, from Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed and Sword Art Online: Lost Song to Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy and Lunar: Silver Star Harmony. A mix of games that use Wi-Fi and disable it to get an accurate “typical day” reading.
The developers claimed it has a 5 hour battery life. When I tested with Wi-Fi on the entire time, it lasted between 3 and 4 hours. When it had the Network features disabled the entire time, it lasted between 4 and 5 hours. It’s not as high as the PS Vita can offer, but it’s not bad for the hulk-sized device this is and powering a device that’s supposed to be plugged into a power outlet at all times.