It's official. The Vita is coming out on Feb. 22, 2012 in North America...but do you want the Wi-Fi version or the 3G one? Sony's detailing of Hot Shots Golf gives us more insight into what 3G will have to offer, even if the company is yet to detail it directly.
Hot Shots Golf has four online modes, all of which work via Wi-Fi, though only two work over 3G. Players will be able to download a daily tournament, play it offline, and upload their scores over 3G or Wi-Fi, so if you are on the golf course and feel like downloading a virtual course, you can use the 3G Vita to do so.
The other 3G compatible mode (also available via Wi-Fi) is a multi-battle mode where players compete back and forth in an asynchronous multiplayer setting. This will not be available right away, but will be patched in at a later date. The other two modes are only available over Wi-Fi: a real-time online tournament for a max of thirty players and a battle room for one-on-one competition.
While this is not a feature's list of the 3G Vita itself, it does give us a good estimate of what we can expect. Owners will be able to download patches, system updates, and games (under 20MB) on the go. They will have access to social media and the internet, but for online gaming, asynchronous multiplayer or turn-based gaming will most likely the limit, as 3G is not really well suited for online play. The Hot Shots feature list more or less confirms that.
Right now, it would be hard to recommend the 3G Vita over the Wi-Fi one. The 3G does offer the option to be online from anywhere you can get a 3G signal, but that's really all it offers over the Wi-Fi only model, plus there is no monthly charge for Wi-Fi. If this was like the Amazon Kindle and offered free 3G for these low impact online features, that would be fantastic. However it's not free in Japan, and there is no reason to believe that Sony and AT&T would offer it for free here. Wi-Fi might not be available everywhere, but it sure is in a lot of places I wind up.
I'm definitely leaning toward the Wi-Fi only model right now, as Sony's not really stepped up to sell me on the 3G model. It offers little that I don't have access to through other means.