Review by claude123

"I've fallen in love"

PSP Review

Welcome to my review. I wanted to wait for a week before I wrote a review for the system to get over my excitement of having it so I was a little more objective, and it has now been a week and a half, so here goes.

First Impressions & Things you'll need:

My PSP arrived Tuesday morning at eight am. I had managed to obtain one for a bargain price via a friend of a friend and suffice to say the anticipation in waiting for it to arrive was high. I bought the value pack with a copy of ridge racers. Wow is this thing shiny. The unit looks and feels expensive (with the exception of the cheap L and R buttons). I had heard many reports of smudging the screen easily, maybe my hands are just dryer, but I have yet to have any problems with this. I am also glad to report my unit had no dead pixels. The unit is a little bit heavier than the DS but I find it to be more comfortable, holding it is like holding a really expensive and slightly bigger GBA classic. The analogue nub rocks. It takes about ten minutes to get used to as it uses a sliding system rather than the axis system of the analogue controls on home consoles, but it's a great and necessary addition and takes up very little space on the unit. One complaint is that it feels like it should have been placed a little bit higher and to the right, but maybe that's just my weird hands. The hibernation feature of the PSP is excellent. The unit takes no time to boot up upon reawakening it, and about two seconds to hibernate and flick the switch to hold. This is obviously very important for portable gaming, as you need to be able to stop and start quickly. As hibernation uses such an unbelievably small amount of battery life, I've actually only turned my unit off a few times in the past week as it seems rather pointless to do so. There are two places where the unit feels a bit flimsy. The first is with the UMD tray, but luckily this is going to be shut 99% of the time However I can see it getting snapped off by the more careless or younger user, an open slot system like on the DS is obviously very difficult to physically break, and a credit to Nintendo, they know how to make a durable console. The second flimsy part is the battery cover, although I doubt I'll be opening and closing it much at all so it's really an unfounded personal gripe of mine. The screen is without a doubt the best part of this system. The clarity is superb and it is really wide. Everything looks good on it and on medium brightness everything is crystal clear. (High brightness is really only to be used if you're playing on a beach or are showing off to friends). As previously mentioned I have no dead pixels so this bad boy is the highlight of the system for me, and the thing that still continuously amazes me a week later.

My main use of the PSP is to play games, but its also acting as my primary media player. Although my value pack came with a 32MB stick this is insufficient if you plan on using the PSP as I will be. After formatting my 512MB sandisk duo pro, (don't bother buying Sony it makes no difference and its 3 times the price), I then added the root directory for the movie folder. An excellent tutorial on exactly how to put videos on you PSP can be found easily on the gamefaqs message boards. You will also need a USB to mini-b 5-pin if you don't have a magic gate slot on your PC. And that's all you need for you PSP to be a portable media player. These extras cost me £49.

Battery Life:

With all the controversy surrounding this topic, I thought it deserved its own section. The battery life is not a problem. Playing ridge racers on medium brightness with half volume yields me 6 hours of playtime. Either I have a magic battery or half the reports I have read are by people who don't own the system. On top of this future BIOS updates and improvement in battery technology will increase the battery life even more as well as programmers optimising their software to minimize disc access during play, (something launch titles did not have time for). Don't be suckered into buying an extra battery unless you plan on playing without rest for twelve hours straight (you crazy people). The battery takes about two and a half hours to charge from full drain to full charge and you can play the system as it does this.

System Power:

After owning this system I've decided I'm a graphics whore. While the reports of PS2 quality graphics are not completely accurate (its more like PS1.8) this is also a first generation title I'm using for reference. Ridge Racers looks fantastic (and requires no knowledge of the Japanese language prospective importers), the screen emphasises and in a way enhances your perception of the graphical power of the machine, it truly amazes me how far technology is coming along these days. There is real time lighting, some beautiful water effects and beautiful cars, and texture quality is good. The graphics are light years ahead of Nintendo DS, but only time will tell if PSP owners will see a fair share of innovation to go with this graphical prowess. (The only game I own is fantastic in my opinion and I rarely like racing games.)

Audio and Video:

MP3 playback is great, the system uses a drag and drop facility and quality is high. The value pack headphones are naff if you're an audiophile (about the same quality as the ones that come with apples I-pod). Buy better ones if you want, but they're sufficient for me. Video playback seems a hassle at first. It took me half an hour before I managed to get it up and running and files need to be converted using software that can also be bought or found for free on the internet (hint). All these niggles fade away however when you see the quality of the picture on say a DVD rip of a film like the matrix, or the star wars ep3 trailer, playback is fantastic, (and the screen again really makes this so much better than we deserve). Movies and TV on the move, there's much love from me.

Conclusions:

Well obviously I really like my PSP, there are flaws as mentioned, but there's so much possibility for the future. Rumour has it that an Internet explorer and messenger update are in Beta at the moment. It's like having a cheap pocket PC that plays games that look like they should be on a home console. Its difficult to recommend importing right now (unless you live in the UK cause the dollar is currently so weak), so unless you're really desperate and want to spend 400$ to have it now I'd wait. I'd say to people like me in the UK to not bother waiting, because 400$ is £200 atm, and that's the rough ballpark of what will be our launch price (we always get shafted price wise here), will be. And secondly we have the same region (2) of DVD playback here. So if you want UMD playback for movies (which will be region encoded) then there's no worry.

So a score: 9/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/18/05


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