Sony had ESP in creating the PSP
Written: May 21, 2005 (Updated May 21, 2005)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Slick graphics, gorgeous screen, does everything
Cons:Slow load times on UMDs, no included web browser, fragile
The Bottom Line: The most ambitious portable game device made to date. Get one.
Sony's new PlayStation Portable (PSP)marks the electronics giant's first entry into the portable console market. And it's an ambitious first try at that. Mainly a game console, the PSP accepts optical disks called Universal Media Disks, or UMDs which are capable of containing 1.8 Gigs of data. This means that not only can UMDs contain games but movies as well. The intial shipment of PSPs included a free Spiderman 2 movie UMD. Also, those with Sony Cybershot Cameras will be overjoyed to know that your pictures and movies taken on your camera can be viewed directly from the camera's Memory Stick DUO card through the PSP's built in Memory Stick DUO slot. Also, entire movies, TV shows and MP3s can be encoded onto the Memory Sticks and played back on the PSP's impressive screen (optimized to 16:9 letterbox ratio).
The PSP is also WiFi capable. Using the 802.11Mhz B standard, the PSP can link to other PSP units for head to head play for up to 8 people or (on only some games) to go online and play people from around the world. Also, Sony uses the WiFi connection to update firmware directly to a wireless port or hotspot. Certain games like Wipeout Pure allow you to download game content through WiFi as well.
It tries to do everything. And does so fairly well with a few notable exceptions. Fire up your PSP when in public transportation and the gorgeous screen gets noticed immediately by everyone. UMD movies look as good as I've seen on the letterbox ratio screen. We are talking best ever in a unit of that screen size. It's brigh enough to be seen in full daylight. Also, the best part is full length UMD movies start at $15 each. UMD games start at $36, which isn't too expensive considering most Gameboy DS games cost that much or more.
Gameplay depends on the specific game. Some are slower loading than others but most take full advantage of the PSPs impressive graphic capability for smooth flowing gameplay.
A word about games...
Learning from repeated mistakes made by such giants as Nintendo and Sega, Sony made sure there were enough titles either already released or on their way in order to please PSP gamers when the device was released. Also, the opening salvo included UMD movies as well as games. This lineup includes Fighting/Combat games (Twisted Metal, Untold Legends), Sports titles (Wayne Gretsky Hockey, FIFA World Cup Soccer, ATV Offroad Fury), Driving/Racing Games (Need For Speed: Underground Rivals, Wipeout Pure, Ridge Racer), Action/Adventure (Spiderman 2, Ape Escape) and puzzle games as well (Freddy McLean's Mercury, Time Bomb). When a portable console like the PSP is released to hungry gamers it pays to have software at the ready and Sony, thankfully, delivered on the goods. They also made sure that future games were not far behind. The much anticipated "Death Jr." game, coming this fall, should turn heads in terms of stunning visuals and flowing animation as you play the son of Death himself who battles to capture escaped demons. Gran Turismo fans will breathe a sigh of relief to know that Grand Turismo 4 Portable will be a direct "port" of the PS2 game. This will be one of the most anticipated release among the PSP titles this September. One hopes that future games will aggressively take advantage of online play given the proliferation of WiFi Wireless Routers in homes everywhere. Hey, I'd like to race some stranger in Iceland, that would be pretty cool!
I love being able to download TV shows to my PSP and play them when I'm on public transportation. Free encoding software (PSP Video 9)transfers .mpg/.avi/.mov files onto your PSP in most cases. Software also exists to allow owners of TiVO machines to transfer shows onto Memory Stick DUOs for use on the PSP as well.
Also, as the third party manufacturers pick up on the PSP's popularity, an avalanche of accessories are appearing ala iPod. Everything from stands which hold the unit for charging and stationary movie viewing to screen protectors and special grips and skins.
The PSP is very much like Richard Gere in Chicago, the movie. Sure, he looks good but he probably shouldn't be allowed to sing. The PSP has the capability of playing MP3 files off of the Memory Stick DUO media. However, one wonders with an already notoriously short battery life why you would want it to do such a thing when you could be playing a game?
The included headphones have a horribly cheap "remote control" attached which aids in adjusting volume and advancing songs when playing MP3s on the PSP. But it will most likely break inside of a year of hard use (or less).
And of course, short battery life is a major stinker on the PSP. Because Sony's proprietary UMD system has moving parts to spin the disc it sucks down power when loading game data. When playing a typical UMD game I find my battery life is somewhere between 2 and 3 hours between charges.
Upon holding a unit in your hand you will be struck by how heavy it is. The feel of it is much like a Sony digital camera of the Cybershot series: A heavy and fragile box encased in thin aluminum. The UMD door feels flimsy and breakable. I wouldn't trust a 10 year old to keep it alive for more than a year before it is either dropped or scratched. Purchasers of the PSP would be wise to buy a protection plan like E.B. Games offers which replaces the unit for any reason except theft.
While the unit utilizes WiFi wireless standard 802.11b to form PSP to PSP connections for gaming (ad-hoc)it does not immediately allow you to hop directly online. Clever hackers have figured out a way to use the browser on the Wipeout Pure game to access the internet but the process is slow and uncertain. Sony should have shipped the unit with a built in browser. (Rumor has the next major firmware update will include a browser.) Another thing, the WiFi antenna is right underneath the left side of the PSP's grip and gets very warm during extended use. It won't burn you but it gets to be uncomfortable.
Not bad at all for a first try. The PSP is packed with multi media features which will keep it humming along in between the UMD games, UMD movies and downloadable content. The PSP is a $250 Jack-of-most-trades.
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