One of my favorite things to watch on YouTube is people bringing old tech back to life. RMC The Cave’s Neil has a tremendous series called Trash to Treasures that I just can’t get enough of. Action Retro has immensely entertaining retro Mac shenanigas. And I see them get vintage parts or modern replacements for old components, and it makes me wonder: what the heck are we going to do when our Vitas stop working?
In terms of actual, normal wear and tear, the screen is not that big of a deal. Aside from maybe burn-in issues with the OLED model, there’s no reason to doubt that the Vita screens will last for decades unless broken. But, some are indeed broken. What happens with that?
Well, for now, you can get replacements. But as with anything, production of these screens might eventually stop. What then? Well, there’s a possibility of hacking the Vita to output to another display. Indeed, the Raspberry Pi-powered VitaDock+ project already has that sort of sorted out. So, there’s a bit of hope there for posterity, at least.
This is a tricky one, because in terms of wear and tear, it’s actually the most likely to go first (like most rechargeable batteries). The one in my OLED Vita, purchased in 2014, has already started bulging. Play time is not too bad yet, but stand-by times are horrendous when compared to, say, my 3DS XL. The Nintendo console can last months in stand-by. I’m lucky if I get a couple of weeks out of my Vita.
Again, you can still find replacements for the Vita battery. But what might happen in the future? Well, batteries are both good and bad. They’re bad in the sense that they can go out at any time. But they’re good in that, if you know what you’re doing, you can cobble something together from off-the-shelf parts. In a few years, technology might be at a point where we get better replacement batteries for the Vita than what went in them originally. Or we might have to Mad Max-it and make our own. At least it’s something doable, unlike the screen. If the screen goes and there are no replacement parts, you’re donezo.
Analog Sticks, Buttons, Other Input Devices
The back touch screen is something nobody will miss, I feel, as not that many native games use it. However, since I started playing my PC backlog on my Vita, it has become really useful as a substitute for triggers. You can still get aftermarket ones, though.
As for the analog sticks and buttons, I’ve been surprised at how available they are. A lot of low-volume handhelds use them (from companies like Powkitty and so on) so they seem to be around. I don’t think it’ll be an issue for a while yet.
To me, this is the biggest issue I had when trying to repair a PSP 2000 a few years back. There just weren’t any good quality aftermarket cases for it. The situation seems to have changed, as a friend of mine actually brought that very PSP 2000 back to life recently with a beautiful translucent case.
Having a quick look around eBay, you can find plenty of aftermarket housings for the Vita 2000/LED model. But if you’re a phat/1000 owner, you’re going to have to look for OEM parts, new old stock, or buying a dead Vita. That’s a real problem, because sooner or later, we’ll run out of those, too.
So, Is a Dead Vita Dead for Good?
At the moment, I’m actually a bit hopeful. When I started writing this article, I thought the low volume sales of the Vita would mean that getting replacement parts would be a nightmare now, and worse in the future. But I’ve seen some hope. Particularly if you own the 2000 model.
For OG/Phat/1000 owners like myself, things are looking a bit glum. And this article does not take into consideration that you still need to either repair it yourself, or have someone repair it for you. And that’s a whole different can of worms.
For now, I’ll look for battery replacements for my OLED model and keep an eye out for performance out of the original one. Hopefully it’ll last me a few years still. But it’s good to know that not all hope is lost should something to kaput. At least, not right now.