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PlayStation Vita monthly data pricing plans revealed

Plugged In

If you're planning to get a 3G-enabled PlayStation Vita when it launches next month, be prepared for monthly data fees that are on par with the iPad.

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Playstation Vita (Sony)

AT&T has revealed its pricing plans for the system, detailing a pair of options designed to accommodate light and heavy users of the network.

No-contract plans will start at $14.99 per month for 250MB of data. For $25 a month, the data cap extends to 2GB. That's about on par with what AT&T charges users of Apple's tablet. And, just like iPad owners, people who use AT&T's service will get free WiFi at AT&T hotspots around the country.

The Vita, which arrived in the U.S. on Feb. 22, comes in two flavors: a standard, Wifi model for $249, or a 3G/Wifi-enabled model for $299.

The pricing announcements are part of Sony's ramp-up for the Vita. The company also shined the spotlight on the system during its annual press conference at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show.

The device has sold over 500,000 units so far in Japan, according to Sony. To put that in comparison, PSP sales topped 1.6 million worldwide during the holiday period.

The Vita had a solid first week of sales in Japan, but dropped off precipitously in its second and third weeks, raising fears that the device would have a less than stellar debut in the U.S.

Analyst Edward Williams at BMO Capital Markets succinctly summed up the feelings of many analysts in a note to investors, saying, "We remain skeptical about the long-term roll of dedicated handhelds."

Other Sony devices held their own last year, though. Sales of the PlayStation Move peripheral topped 1.7 million during the holiday period and the PlayStation 3 sold 3.9 million units. (Industry-wide holiday and year-end sales numbers are expected later this week.)

While the Vita is Sony's big gaming bet for this year, it is keeping another option open. At CES, Sony announced the Walkman Z, which -- in addition to performing the usual musical duties of a Walkman --will be able to play Android games on screen and on TVs, courtesy of an HDMI output.

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