I owned a bunch of handhelds over the years (GB Color, GBA, DS, DS lite, PSP, 3DS), and they all hold a special place in my heart, but the Vita’s gotta take top spot for me. I absolutely adored my PSP, so when I learned that Sony would be making a successor with my #1 requested feature (a 2nd analog stick), I knew I had to have it. I remember saving every scrap of money I could get my hands on for like a year leading up to its release so that I could get one at launch, and I believe it was the first console/handheld I paid for completely by myself, so it’s special to me for that reason too.
It pretty much improved on the PSP in every way imo (except maybe actually being commercially successful ), and I was a big fan of all the added inputs, even though most of the time, they just served as gimmicks in the games that utilized them. (Sidenote: a very small thing, but the vita is like the only touch screen device I’ve come across so far that incorporated an auto-scroll gesture? Why is this not a thing on other devices???).
The game selection was not too shabby as well. There was some solid first party stuff on there ( you Wipeout 2048, Gravity Rush, Soul Sacrifice!), and some good third party ports, but it’s because of the Vita that I was able to get into indie games (didn’t have a computer at the time), and I even discovered that I liked some genres, like visual novels, that I may not have otherwise ever checked out. Plus, through some…less-than-officially-supported means , I’m able to play a bunch of games from other platforms from back in the day.
Also, because I haven’t seen it mentioned yet, bonus shout out to the Game Boy Micro–I never owned one, but always wanted one because it’s so gosh darn cute 'n tiny.