Sony PSP

by Dijita

What a crazy time for the gaming hand held market! For years Nintendo dominated this market with its many incantation of Gameboys. In fact it dominated the market so much that when Sony announced last year at E3 that it was going to enter the arena for portable gaming, with the new PSP, many people gasped and believed that it couldn’t be done. No way in a million years could Sony make something to compete with the beloved Nintendo family. People even turned a blind eye to the fact that the same emotions were expressed many years ago when Sony first introduced the Playstation and look where Sony is today in the console business: the number one spot in console sales. Personally I was excited to get my hands on the new Sony PSP. So on March 24th I was like a little kid opening up the box of my brand new Sony PSP. Was it worth it?

Not only is the PSP a gaming unit but it offers other features such as both movie and mp3 playback plus the ability to view digital photos. The extra features are nice but at this time I feel as though they cannot be easily utilized. The reason for this is that the PSP uses the memory duo format for storing information and the price for a decent sized one is very expensive; you’re looking at close to $200 for 1 gig capacity. Sony also uses a new format called UMD. They are basically miniature discs encased in a plastic shell. This is the format used for the games as well as any movies that you would purchase in stores. They are not writable so you cannot buy blank UMD’s to burn your own music or movies onto, which is unfortunate because I think this could have made the video and mp3 more accessible.

The tiny little box was packed full of goodies. On top of the main gaming unit, included in the box were headphones with a remote, a slip on case to protect the PSP when not in use, a lint free cloth to clean the unit with, an AC Adapter to charge the unit, a demo UMD disc, Spider-Man 2 the full movie on UMD, a 32 mb memory duo, and a lithium battery.

Sony PSP

When I took out the main unit, a glimmer of saliva sat at the corner recesses of my mouth; the PSP is a beautiful looking machine. Aesthetics is very important to me when it comes to something that I carry and possibly introduce in a public situation. If the machine looks like a child’s toy *cough* Gameboy *cough* then it is unlikely that I will sit down at a coffee shop, for example, to get my game on. The Sony PSP is sleek, prestigious and downright sexy looking, with its black high gloss finish fixed with a seamless widescreen viewing area and translucent buttons. The only downside to the glossy surface is that it smudges like the windows in the back of a minivan filled with dogs. Thankfully it doesn’t scratch as easily and it does come with a lint free cloth for wiping so as long as caution is used the PSP should stay beautiful for a long time.

Turning the PSP on is equally impressive. Honestly at first when I saw how small the unit was, I thought the 3d graphics would look too busy on the screen. However the minute I played a game on the PSP I realized that the screen size is perfect and 3d graphics looks amazing. Everything is very crisp and clear, the colours are vibrant and I couldn’t notice any kind of screen refresh rate problems. Viewing the screen outside in the daylight, however, is an issue. The screens glossy finish creates a lot of glare from the sun.

The PSP fits great in your hands. For the most part it’s comfortable to hold and even the shoulder buttons are easy to use. In addition to the standard directional pad there is an analog ?nub?. It doesn’t tilt like an analog stick, standard on most consoles, but rather it slides in place. It feels nice but unfortunately for a lot of games it doesn’t translate well for some reason. So far I’ve found that it only works well for platformer style of games. The one thing that is horrible as far as user interface is the way you input text. The on-screen keyboard is one of the worst ones I have ever used. It’s setup like a cell phone where there are three letters on one key. I don’t understand why Sony didn’t implement a full on-screen ?QWERTY? style keyboard considering the unit is equipped with a widescreen.

What’s a good gaming system without a game library? Thankfully Sony has covered this by ensuring a great lineup of games at launch. In addition there is a promising library for future releases. I picked up Lumines and Wipeout Pure, two purchases I was very happy with. Lumines is the best puzzle game I have played since Tetris with groovy tunes and a lot of style. Wipeout Pure is a fantastic futuristic racing game that should suit old time fans and newcomers alike.

A couple of other things worth mentioning. The Sony PSP is wi-fi compatible. To date there are a handful of games that can be played through a wire-less LAN network and many more to come. Officially the PSP doesn’t support internet web browsing. Unofficially if you search the internet there are ways to ?hack? the PSP to get on the internet with a copy of the Wipeout Pure game, and it’s relatively easy. Considering how powerful the system is and the fact that it has to access a disc, battery consumption was my biggest concern. If you are playing graphically intense games the battery life will be shorter as opposed to puzzle-type games. Viewing UMD movies is also demanding on the battery. However, I am please to say that on average I get about 4 hours playing my PSP before I have to plug it in for a recharge.

So at a $350 price tag (game bundle) is the Sony PSP worth it? If you’re buying the PSP with the attitude that you want a gaming device then by all means I think it is worth every penny. The system does come with its snags but overall I believe it is going to be the dominant portable gaming unit for years to come. On the flip side do not buy the Sony PSP thinking it will be a great mp3 or dvd player; appreciate that it comes with these extra features but know that there are alternate devices at a much lesser price that will outperform the Sony PSP on many levels.

  • Sony PSP
  • by Dijita
  • Published on May 1st, 2005

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