Sony, the Tokyo-based electronics giant, will be excited by the hype that has surrounded the launch of the eagerly anticipated PlayStation Vita. The handheld gaming console was launched on Feb. 22, in Europe, Africa, the U.S., Australasia and the Middle East.

There has been a lot of interest in the launch of a handheld gaming device whose name suggests or rather promises users and gamers a "beautiful life" and its success or failure will largely depend on sales through the opening weekend, at major gaming markets in the UK and the U.S.

The device was originally launched on Dec. 20 in Japan. However, it was unable to reach expected sales targets. A Digital Trends report indicated that the launch of Nintendo's 3DS may have complicated matters for Sony. Their report said that although initial sales were good, they plummeted by some 80 per cent soon after, forcing the company to cut prices to $170.

Sony would like to believe the drop in market share of handheld devices in Japan could have been due to the leak of personal data following a suspected hack that happened in April. It was reported that some 77 million members of the PlayStation community may have been affected.

The company will be hoping that its run in the UK market is more positive and long-term, similar to the one it experienced when it slashed prices on the PlayStation 3, resulting in the selling of 22 million consoles in Europe last year.

The other major market that will decide the fate of the high-definition Vita is America, where Sony's PlayStation was outdone by the sales of the Microsoft Xbox 360 last year. Sony will be desperate to win back lost ground and regain supremacy in the segment.

The Wi-Fi-only Vita costs $249. For $299, you get both Wi-Fi and the ability to access AT&T's 3G mobile broadband network, which starts at $15 per month and limits users to 250MB of data.

Meanwhile, in terms of hardware promises, Sony is counting on in-house high-end technology to provid a gaming experience otherwise unmatched by its competitors.

The Vita is a bundle of features that includes a five-inch touch screen with dazzling OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display and vivid colors and sharp contrast. The device also comes with a rear touch-pad and front and rear-facing cameras.

In addition, perhaps the biggest and most impressive advantage the new handheld console promises, is the ability to connect to as many as 8 other consoles - both handheld and PS3 - to experience competition in a virtual environment. In-built social application like "Near You" helps find fellow gamers in the vicinity and the advantage of connecting to both handheld and PS3s will make sure there is no dearth of competition when playing your favorite games.

The Vita not only helps you play with neighbors and friends who have a PS3 or another Vita but also to share content online and chat with friends... all of which can be done while playing your favorite game.

The device, which has been designed for top-notch gaming experiences on-the-go, will however, come exclusive of accessories like the charger or memory cards... which will carry Sony's brand name and be sold as a proprietary product. The cards will cost from $20 (4GB) to $100 (32GB), while games will be available for between $10 and $50.

In addition, some inclusions sure to impress daily gamers are two touch-sensitive panel options along with dual thumb stick controls. The different configurations and price listings can be checked by clicking on these links - Configurations and Links.

Meanwhile, this web page will help keep you posted on the latest games already available and the ones to look out for in the near future.

The promised link-up between the Vita and the PS3 should also allow the user to use the Vita to build Singstar playlists while your mates croon and use the handheld as a controller while playing Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 on PS3!

Finally, Sony International, in order to give a fillip to sales on the occasion of the launch of PlayStation Vita, has drawn impressive plans to entice users or gamers by offering free games and software. To top it all, the company plans to distribute free goodie bags in Europe, as tweeted by @PlayStationEU.

Meanwhile... check out this video of the Vita in action...