Review by Kwing

"A Great System All Around!"

I got my first PSP around 5 or 6 years ago and it was a 1001 model. Then a year ago I got a 3000 model. Let's see how they compare. One thing I must apologize for is never having played or owned a Nintendo DSi, so I can't compare the PSP with it. Sorry.

The PSP 3000 is slimmer and lighter, and less prone to breaking. Why? The UMD slot opens by a hatch instead of a lever that releases a spring. The reason I had to get a new PSP was because the 1001 had broken and the door no longer shut on its own. There are a few more changes I'd like to point out as well. The X and O buttons have extra reinforcement on them, which seem odd at first in contrast to the triangle and square buttons, but obviously have a purpose and overall prevent them from getting mashed in too much. There's also a microphone, which enables you to make Skype calls, which is handy. If you have a Skype membership and Wi-Fi, you can practically use your PSP like a phone! The graphics have a high contrast and still dominate the world of portable gaming. The response time has also allegedly been optimized, although I never noticed a problem with it on the 1001 model.

However, there are two problems with the PSP 3000 that the PSP 1001 did not have. One, the [L] and [R] shoulder buttons are a lot less sturdy than on the 1001 model, and the WLAN switch is utter crap. It jiggles around and is extremely lose and prone to accidentally being switched on and off. It's worth mentioning that since the 1001 model, the WLAN switch has been relocated to the top of the system to prevent accidentally switching it off during internet usage. Two last gripes about the PSP: First, the RAM is very limited during internet surfing, and it's prone to lag while multiple objects are on-screen during games. This is excusable though, as the lag on PSP games is negligible and the lag during internet surfing depends on your connection. Second, on very large video files (like full-length movies), the audio can lag pretty badly. On a 98-minute video I have, the audio and video are out of sync by about 6 seconds at the end of the video.

The firmware updates have given me mixed feelings. The updates allow you to download all sorts of themes to affect the look of the interface, as well as options for slideshows, music playback, audio visualizers, video playback, and of course playing new games which require higher firmware. A few of these updates include new internet surfing options as well. The main setback of these features is that each new update is designed to prevent the usage of custom firmware and homebrew applications. I can sympathize with Sony on these decisions, as it's custom firmware that allows pirating of their games, but to anyone who wants to create their own PSP features or homebrew games, it can be a real pain. Sony also insists on denying access to the PlayStation Store unless you have the latest version of firmware.

However, if you don't mind eluding to Flash 6 applications, you can still run tons of Flash 6 files that don't take up much RAM, provided they only use the arrow keys and cursor. Unfortunately, there's no key mapping feature on the PSP's browser, which limits your options. Still, there are simple applications and games you can get from the internet in Flash that Sony has no hard feelings toward. And of course, since these Flashes are created by independent designers, it's easy to make requests or even create your own things.

One of my favorite things about the PSP is how much you can do with it; you can view tons of different filetypes! You can view almost any type of image in the viewer (although you need to use the PSP's directory on browser to view animated GIF files) and several types of audio (including rare filetypes like ATRAC). You can even listen to music while looking at a slideshow! The video playback feature, however, is somewhat limited. There are only a few filetypes you can play on it, and generally it's easy to convert files to a playable format, but you can't carelessly throw in all sorts of videos like you can with images and audio. Games, of course can only be played in PBP (for official games) or SWF (for homemade games) format. Since the PlayStation Portable has such a large following, there are tons of websites where you can download free videos and Flash games made specifically to fit on the PSP, so you can do quite a lot, assuming you have a connection cable.

There are also a few hundred PSP games, many of them PS2 ports, which you can find listed by a simple online search. Popular series such as Grand Theft Auto and Final Fantasy have a handful of games for the PSP, which can be downloaded from the PlayStation store or bought as a UMD. When you download a game, the filesize can be pretty intimidating (full games take up about 1.3 GB), but there are some pretty large memory sticks you can buy to combat this. There's a 16 GB memory card out that isn't too expensive and even a rumored 32 GB memory card in production. And of course there will be even larger memory cards in time.

You can download TONS of things from the PlayStation store. You can buy some PS1 games, a large selection of PSP games, movies, episodes from TV shows, themes, backgrounds, and add-ons for your games! The movie and TV selections are extremely expansive; I've searched all sorts of movies and never came up without the movie I was looking for. Most themes and backgrounds are free, thankfully, although there are a few "premium" themes and backgrounds which cost money. In addition to that, you can also get add-ons for your games! Extra missions and levels for tons of games are available, many of them free (though a few cost money)! Even the ones you have to pay for generally aren't too expensive, oftentimes costing only a few dollars.

The PSP is my first choice in portable gaming, though I can't say I've had much experience with game consoles. I've found the system to be long-lasting, durable, and reliable! There are also numerous amazing games for the PSP, some of which you can play for months or even years without tiring of them! Well worth the price!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/27/10

Game Release: PSP Hardware (US, 03/24/05)

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