It’s amazing what you can uncover on a random shopping trip. A while back we looked at the Signalex Stylus from budget store Poundland and were surprised at how well it worked on the Vita’s OLED screen. This time, on another trip to the retailer I discovered another potential gem for the Vita in the shape of their first dedicated accessory for the console, the PS Vita Silicone Case…
Like so many others on the market, this is a protective cover for the Vita that fits over the entire console made from silicone rubber designed to encase the system just leaving access to the main ports, the screen, rear touch pad, buttons and the analogue sticks. It’s available in a number of colours including red and blue and – as with all products in the store – is available for a meagre £1. Designed to fit the original PS Vita 1000 series, it fits over the console after a brief bit of stretching and can be fitted by anyone in a few moments, and once on is ready to use.
Once on, it aims to offer two key functions – to act as an enhanced grip for the console and a protective cover. From a grip point of view after using this for a lengthy period of time I have to say that it was significantly more comfortable than using a “naked” Vita. The console never slipped from my hands once during play, even during lengthier gaming sessions and there was plenty of space left around the action buttons, d-pad and analogue sticks to allow me to access them easily during play so nothing was hindered at any point so from that perspective it performed well.
As well as allowing access to the Vita’s main controls, the case covers and protects the console’s other buttons – the power button, volume controls, the PS button and the start and select buttons. All of these are covered with raised impressions in the silicone which still allow you to press the buttons underneath and work surprisingly well and still feel remarkably tactile. If anything, the top buttons actually feel better than the Vita originals as they are more substantial and easier to use. The only small downside with these is that – because it is covered up – there is no way to see the indicator light on the PS button but this is a small thing that can be overlooked.
In terms of protecting the Vita I’m not too sure. It’s certainly not something that will withstand too many knocks and bumps and with the silicone being relatively thin I can’t seeing this standing up to too much wear and tear. It does give the console a little extra protection but it’s definitely not something I would depend on in a crisis and I wouldn’t rely on this to save my Vita if it were ever accidentally dropped on the floor.
It’s far from perfect however, and that’s only expected from a budget accessory. While comfortable to use, it’s not a perfect fit and the rubber at the top is a little loose. If you play any games using the touch screen and your fingers move too close to the case you’ll find that you’ll end up moving the strip of silicone at the top as well. While this is only a minor annoyance, it does make me wonder how durable this will make the case in the long run. In addition, despite this being produced for the 1000 series console, as I said all of the ports are accessible with the glaring omission of the SIM card port from the 3G model of the Vita. This surprised me as the “mystery port” is accessible and even the barcode stickers are protected but for those with the 3G model this is something that shouldn’t have been left out.
Another issue – and this isn’t a fault specific to this – is a common problem with anything made from silicone rubber and the fact that it attracts dirt and dust very easily. Within no time at all, I found that I was having to brush dirt off and all manner of bits off the case and I have a feeling that I won’t be able to keep this clean for too long. Certainly hygiene and this case are not likely to be the best of friends. Finally, and I know I am nit-picking on this one – is the size increase. For those of you like me who use a carry case for your Vita when you travel away from home the change in size is something that you need to bear in mind. The addition of this case meant that the Vita only just managed to fit into my travel case so if you’re existing carry case is already a snug fit then this won’t be for you.
Overall this is generally a good case and despite it’s flaws is actually quite a useful addition to the PS Vita if you don’t already own a controller grip. It’s certainly the cheapest option available right now and for the price it’s exceptional value for money and we worth tracking down, even if it’s just for occasional use.