I am a member of Momin Vita. In my humble and true opinion, gaming laptops don’t come any better than Sony’s ill-fated second handheld.
Launched in 2011 in Japan and a year later in the US and Europe, The Vita tosses every hardware and software trick in the book into its luxe piano black chassis. A 5-inch OLED panel? check. twin handlebar? check. Front and back cameras? check. Headphone port and touch screen? check. Bluetooth and wifi? check. It was small enough to be perfectly portable but big enough to keep you engaged in Uncharted, Need for Speed, or – my personal favorite – Everybody’s Golf.
And he was a failure.
I don’t need to go into the reasons why the Vita didn’t work here – they’ve been covered ad nauseam elsewhere on the internet.
But I’m one of the people who’s still hoping to get a PS Vita 2 at some point in the near future. This possibility is on a knife edge now. Thanks to the Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, and ROG Ally, mobile gaming is experiencing something of a renaissance.
Sony seems to have picked this up, and as a result we have Project PlayStation Q. Which is, for all intents and purposes, a DualSense with a screen.
Details are scarce, but instead of running its game catalog on the device, this new mobile device uses PS5 Remote Play to keep gamers in the zone when they’re being kicked off the family phone.
While Sony hasn’t conceded much, we know quite a bit about Project Q. According to the press release, it will feature a “vibrant 8-inch LCD screen capable of up to 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.”
Sony also says: “The device delivers crisp visuals and smooth gameplay streamed from your PS5 when you’re away from your TV. All buttons and features of your DualSense wireless controller, including adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, are displayed on the device .”
So far, so humble. And if the heads of PlayStation decide to charge a big buck for this accessory — let’s say somewhere between the $349 Switch and the $499 Steam Deck — I’ll spit out my mouthful of SoulStorm Brew in disgust.
The reason, of course, is that there is already a very good product out there that fits this need. It’s cheaper, does the same job and is closer to my dream of having a PS Vita 2 than anything else out there. I’m talking about the Sony-certified “PlayStation version” of the Backbone One handheld game console. The Android version was announced just days before Sony’s PlayStation Showcase, as previously it was only available for iOS.
Chances are you’re using a smartphone with a faster refresh rate, and maybe an OLED panel will make your Remote Play games look a lot better than what Project Q touts. Likewise, if you opt for the Backbone One, you’ll get an extra 3.5mm headphone jack and a weight of just 138g. Put your iPhone 12 in there and you get a 300g device that looks like a Switch Lite.
And while you can choose to use it while at home on the couch connected to Remote Play, you can also take it out when you’re on the go or out for a long weekend. And enjoy some of the best iOS games or Apple Arcade shows to boot. If you are an Android enthusiast, you can use it with many of the best Android games.
Show some backbone
Backbone actually goes even further with its own app and subscription package (Backbone+) that offers features like a central hub for all your gaming content, 24/7 support, and most importantly, the ability to connect your controller. to another screen, such as a PC or Mac, via a cable to use as a standalone console.
The controller itself is well-made, with decent clicky buttons and responsive joysticks. It’s not perfect: Since it’s designed to be compatible with different phone models, it doesn’t fit perfectly with any of them. There is a bit of bending and flexing when using it that you just won’t get with a dedicated mobile device.
If Project Q has any chance of winning me over, I’ll need to see some kind of onboard storage that will allow me to play offline and away from my home. Without it, the whole exercise seems pointless.
Even if I don’t have a Backbone One, I can just pair the DualSense controller with my iPad and use it as a second display.
Unfortunately, the cynic in me says that if Project Q doesn’t succeed, Sony will see it as further evidence that people don’t want a handheld PlayStation. And my PlayStation Vita 2 dreams will die somewhere in the back of a boardroom in Tokyo.