Recently I acquired a used PSVita from a friend that runs a second-hand game store near my house (Vidiots is the name if you are interested). Initially I borrowed the device because I was curious about it. All that I had heard was that it was selling poorly and wasn't that great. What I learned that weekend is that people really have no idea what they are talking about. Before you judge something, it is best to get your hands on said thing and give it a try. In the case of the PSVita, I was beyond surprised with how much I enjoyed myself.
The hardware is very similar to the original PSP. I was confused at first because from across the store, it looked indistinguishable from the other PSP hardware on the shelf. I think that this may be a contributing factor to the lack of uptake from existing PSP owners. There is probably some confusion that this is in fact a completely new system. There were, after all, a number of updates that evolved the PSP hardware improving it over time.
The performance of the PSVita is obviously better than the PSP. This is evident as soon as you start a game. The graphics are sharper and it is running at what I believe is at least 2x the resolution of the PSP. The OLED screen is very sharp and looks very nice. The pixel density is good, though not quite retina.
One thing that doesn't seem to have improved over it's predecesor is the load times for games. The PSP was a dog at load times and frequently the PSVita suffers the exact same fate. Launch titles are freqently the worst at this, but even more recent titles like Little Big Planet have you waiting a little too long to get back to playing.
The game library is not as big as it could be, but what is available is for the most part great. I have played a large number of game demos and own six titles for the Vita. I wish that the outlay for the rest of 2013 looked better. There aren't a lot of announced titles on the way from the looks of the pre-order lists.
If the game line-up is solid but thin, shouldn't that be a problem? You would think so, but there is an awesome secret hidden inside the PSVita, the Playstation store stocks digital download versions of many PSP and PSOne classics. Additionally there are Mini titles and indie titles available for trial and purchase. With the addition of these platforms, you will never be bored on the PSVita. I am very happy with the amount of content available at my fingertips.
My strongest recommendations for Vita games are Sound Shapes, Retro City Rampage and Little Big Planet. I own a lot of software for the Vita at this point, but these three are really strong games. Sound Shapes and Little Big Planet especially show off the hardware of the Vita in really interesting ways. Retro City Rampage is a retro style game that is right at home on the Vita and feels great. More people should check the Vita out.