Sony released version 2.00 of the firmware for the PS Vita, which brings a usable web browser, a simple email client and PlayStation Plus benefits.  Read on for details.

Vita Lock Screen

Sony has released a firmware update for the PlayStation Vita, which adds some new features, brings PlayStation Plus benefits and fixes the web browser!  Yay!

First, a quick introduction video to what is new.

And now on to the major changes!

Web Browser

The web browser on the Vita is weak.  It takes forever to render, and some pages render incorrectly.  Not any more; the web browser now works pretty well.  Pages render quickly and correctly.  In fact, the National Weather Service page rendered all wrong for me on the old firmware version.  Now, it renders perfectly.  While not the speediest browsing solution, the new firmware version works well enough to be useful.  Here is what the weather service site looks like:


Ii could not find any sites with rendering issues, and speed was acceptable.  This is a nice upgrade to the feature set.

Email Client

I have wanted an email client on the Vita since Day One.  This new firmware delivers a rudimentary client, with Gmail and Yahoo accounts getting setup priority.  You have to manually enter contact information for other account types, which is a bit of a pain, but the process for drafting and sending messages is pretty easy.  While not the best email experience in the world, you can use your Vita to send emails now.  Here is what my Yahoo inbox looks like:


One annoyance is you can’t manually trigger a message send.  The settings in each account allow for synching to happen on a schedule, but not manually triggered, which is a pain.  I would also like to see better support for Exchange accounts out of the box.  It’s not a great experience, but it does work and allow you to send and receive emails on your Vita.


Wireless Device Synch

This firmware release also brings the ability to synch content wirelessly between your PC running Content Manager and the Vita.  Once the Vita is running 2.00, plug it into the PC with the content that you want to synch, update Content Manager on the PC and unplug the Vita.  Open the Connection Manager on the Vita, choose PC and then Wi-Fi and register the Vita with your PC by entering the code displayed on your PC screen in the box that pops up on the Vita.  Tap Register.  Now, you can connect wirelessly and send content back and forth.    This is a nice feature.  Notice the Wi-Fi Connection Settings tab:


I loaded all of my holiday music onto the Vita for my Thanksgiving road trip while writing this up!  This is a nice feature as I have the Vita charger set up into my home entertainment center; getting the cord out to synch content is a pain in the neck, so it rarely gets done.

PlayStation Plus Support

This is a big one: support for PlayStation Plus.  Here is what Sony had to say about this addition:

As Ray mentioned, PS Plus will offer exclusive discounts and bonus features for both PS Vita and PlayStation 3 members. In addition to online storage for game saves, automatic updates and Trophy synching, PS Plus members will get access to the Instant Game Collection, a constantly updated library selection of games, starting when the PlayStation Store updates on Tuesday, November 20th.

Once you update your PS Vita to v2.00 and PS Store publishes next Tuesday, PS Plus members will be able to download the Instant Game Collection, which includes PS Vita games Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Jet Set Radio HD, WipEout 2048, Gravity Rush and Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!, as well as (PSP) PlayStation Portable hit Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions.

Don’t forget that PS3 users with an existing PS Plus membership will be able to enjoy PS Plus features and services on both PS3 and PS Vita systems at no additional cost. You will be able to choose between the two subscription options — a three month plan for $17.99 and a one year plan for $49.99.


They also announced that their streaming music solution is now $12.00 for a year’s access for PlayStation Plus members.

Overall, this is a nice update for the Vita, so go ahead and download it, get your free games and get playing!

PlayStation Plus Comes to the Vita