Is the Sony PSP for you?
Sony entered into the handheld gaming market in late 2004 (Japan) and early 2005 (North America, PAL regions). Nintendo has historically dominated the sector, so Sony decided it was going to have to pull out all the stops in order to dethrone the reigning king of portable video games. With that mindset, Sony developed the PlayStation Portable (PSP) – a robust multimedia device designed specifically with technophiles and loyal Sony gamers in mind.
Up until the introduction of the Apple iPad, the Sony PSP was far and away the most technologically advanced portable gaming device ever manufactured. For starters, the platform features a 4.3” 16:9 Color TFT display with a resolution quality of 480x272 pixels. This allows for stunning rendering of gaming images as well as video. The screen alone clearly separated this device from the competition in terms of sheer technical performance.
The screen isn’t the only thing the PSP had in its favor. This device was the first portable gaming system to use an optical disc format. Called Universal Media Discs (UMDs), much more information could be stored, leading to rich gaming experiences similar to what you could get on older home consoles.
Additionally, the PSP sports a mini analog joystick. Whereas all other portables have traditionally used a digital directional pad (D-pad), the incorporation of an analog stick meant that the more complex control schemes of big games would be able to be mimicked more readily.
Unfortunately, these innovations weren’t executed upon particularly well by Sony. While the large, bright, beautiful screen is a sensation, it is battery hog. Likewise, the UMDs constantly spin in the optical drive. This produces a lot of noise whilst the lens is reading the information and it uses up even more battery life than the screen does. Finally, as good of an idea as incorporating an analog stick into the design was, it suffered from two crucial flaws: the tiny nub is uncomfortable to use for extended periods of time, and it simply isn’t as precise and sensitive as gamers are used to.
Lastly, as has already been hinted at, the PSP suffers from serious battery issues. Not only does the energy get sapped quickly, the battery itself has a very short life span – after just a year, the battery is typically functioning at about 50% of its original output. Also, the PSP tends to drain the battery, whether in standby mode or completely shut down, when it is left inside the device and not used regularly.
Regardless of these missteps, the PSP is an amazing gaming device with which anyone who picks it up has a lot of fun. In fact, it is the best-selling non-Nintendo portable gaming device of all time, selling more than 65 million units worldwide. That’s because the PSP is home to a handful of gaming software that is truly compelling – you simply can’t experience games such as God of War: Chains of Olympus, Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, etc. on other devices.
Also, this is a multimedia device that is very competent at reproducing music, video, even phone calls through Skype. It also has robust online gaming and connectivity features, including Internet browsing and a comic reader, that bring a lot of great, non-gaming content to your fingertips.
Further, the PSP gives consumers access to the PlayStation Network (PSN), where movies and games can be purchased and download on demand. Additionally, if you are a PS3 owner, the interconnectivity options are astounding. Through Remote Play, the PSP is capable of streaming many games and movies directly from the PS3. What’s more, the PSP can also be connected to other video devices, such as certain DVRs, and you can watch all your favorite recorded shows from your PSP wherever there is an Internet connection available.
Like all gaming hardware, the PSP has been through several iterations. While the first three were essentially identical to each other except for improved efficiency, a slimmer profile, and lighter weight, the PSPgo changes things up significantly and seems to point to a new paradigm in the gaming industry. The PSPgo is much smaller and lighter than the other PSP models, it is more ergonomic, it has Bluetooth support, and it has completely abandoned the UMD drive in favor of Memory Stick Micros.
As such, the PSPgo no longer plays retail copies of games. Instead, consumers have to download any and all content via the PlayStation Network. This goes a long way toward remediating the battery issues (discs no longer spin endlessly), but it also means gamers have to abandon their old UMD collection and start collecting games anew. Also, large capacity Sony Memory Stick Micros are not cheap, and the PSPgo needs a Memory Stick with minimum 8GB of capacity in order to get full functionality out of the device.
- Beautiful, vibrant screen supports the best portable graphics out there
- Has a handful of gaming titles that are truly worthwhile
- A multimedia device that is essentially the Swiss Army knife of electronics – it has more functionality than you’ll likely know what to do with
- Solid construction and quality of design
- Great Internet connectivity – Remote Play can be an amazing feature in the right hands
- Battery hog
- Uncomfortable to play over extended periods of time
- Software library is quite limited compared to the competition
Rumored to soon be replaced by a next-generation PSP
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