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The PS Vita hasn't been getting a whole lot of love lately. The system has started to feel like an afterthought, especially over the last two years. Well, there is now speculation running rampant that the reason the Vita is being treated with second rate attention is because Sony could be working on a new handheld.
The folks over on Neogaf spotted a patent for a new handheld that actually isn't all that new. In fact, the patent from Sony was originally filed back in 2015 but was only recently published. There are a collection of images that have been spread around after making their way to the Japanese blog Esuteru.
The reactions on Esuteru are very interesting. A lot of them are more curious and inquisitive than they are dismissive or excited. Some felt as if Sony pursuing another new handheld was a bit pointless anyway, since the sales performance of the PS4 is doing so well. Others felt as if Sony making a new handheld during this current age was a risky move and that's something worth considering given the popularity of mobile phones, not just in Japan, but around the world.
In a way, the new handheld would be competing with other mobile devices, but then there's the functionality of the device, which many people on NeoGaf likened to the Nintendo Switch. It's a small tablet touchscreen with what looks like removable controllers on each side of the tablet, identical to the Nintendo Switch. The major difference is in the design of the controllers themselves.
Unlike the Nintendo Switch, Sony's patented device does not use inversely identical controllers that you can detach and use for two player games. Instead, the right detachable controller has a right analog and four face buttons, the typical Triangle, Square, Circle and 'X' buttons that PlayStation devices are renown for.
The left controller has the typical D-Pad and a left analog stick. Both controllers have bumpers and triggers on the top-end, just like the other DualShock controllers.
Some people on NeoGaf argued that maybe the entire device is a tablet style gaming system and that the controllers don't detach. Others questioned if maybe it was just a cover for the tablet and that the controllers themselves are completely separate from the touchscreen -- potentially making them usable with other tablet devices.
However, the diagrams show that there is an AC port, a mini-USB port and other features that seem to indicate that the controllers and tablet are all part of the same device. Whether or not the controllers can detach is tough to determine given that the bottom diagram makes it look like the controllers are unhooked from the tablet, but from the top view it looks like they're firmly attached.
Some people are labeling this as the Vita 2 while others are saying this is a dead concept that just managed to surface to the public's awareness. Given Sony's position in the current console market with the PS4, it's tough to tell if they would pursue another handheld, but if the Nintendo Switch turns out to be a blockbuster device on the market, don't be surprised if this patent ends up turning into a real product, real soon.