Sony Officially Names The NGP: PlayStation Vita Gaming Handheld Coming For $249

And now, we know the name for Sony's Next Generation Portable. The NGP, as it's called, will now be forever known as the PlayStation Vita, and unlike the PSPgo launch, it's looking more and more like Sony may just get this one right. The Vita will be sold as a standalone handheld gaming console (with Wi-Fi), or as a 3G device exclusively from AT&T. Sony Ericsson and AT&T have a longstanding relationship, so it's possible that the Sony roots there assisted in making this one available only to America's most hated network.

The PS Vita will sell for $249 (Wi-Fi) or $299 (3G), and the name itself is worth talking about. Vita means "Life" in Latin, and it's pretty obvious that Sony's hoping for this device to breath life into the company. Sony has been hammered recently by hacks and negative reaction to the handling of PSN's temporary shutdown, and it's good to see a bit of bright news passing through the desk.

The 5" multi-touch OLED is pretty impressive for a handheld, and there's also a rear touch pad, two analog sticks, and quite a few tricks up its sleeve. On January 27, 2011, SCE announced the first PS Vita application, "near," which will come pre-installed. It will let users discover what games PS Vita users in the vicinity are or were recently playing, as well as let users share their game information. "near" also enables location-based gaming features such as "gifting," in which a user can access virtual game-related items that other users are sharing, through checking in at geographic locations that others have also visited. The virtual items can include content unlocked from games, such as character costumes, weapons, and treasures. Sharing these items between users adds a unique dimension to the portable gaming experience on PS Vita while enhancing the social connectivity among the PS Vita community.

Additionally, PS Vita will come pre-installed with a newly developed application called "Party." "Party" is an innovative application for a portable entertainment system which enables users to enjoy voice chat or text chat not only during online gaming, but also when users are playing different games or using different applications such as internet browser. Through "Party," which offers a new form of social networking, and "near," which enables users to share their game information with other users anywhere, anytime, users can dramatically expand the boundaries of interactive communication.

So, is anyone in, or have mobile phones already replaced the standalone handheld gaming system?