Review by TomNook20

"One name to rule them all... PlayStation."

It's finally here. The long awaited PlayStation Portable. Nintendo's monopoly over the portable market will finally come to an end. The PSP is unlike anything we've ever seen. It allows you to carry the power of the PS2 where ever you go, plays MP3s, and even lets you watch movies on its lovely screen. Sony knew that to enter the market, they would need something out of this world, and they delivered. The time has come for gamers to decide, how important are graphics? Are multimedia functions the way of the future for portable gaming? How does innovation factor into a great gaming experience? Will Sony once again, be victorious as in the home console market, or will Nintendo get its revenge?

I think the first thing I should address here is, of course, the graphics. The PSP is the most powerful handheld gaming machine on the market. The graphics are somewhere between the Dreamcast and PS2's. With this power, you can expect to see games on the PSP in their original home console form. This is perhaps the PSP's best feature. The DS on the other hand only can support graphics slightly better than the N64's. A huge difference. Without a doubt, if graphics are more important to you than anything in the gaming world, stop reading this review and buy a PSP.

The PSP uses disk based media, which is something Nintendo refuses to use in their handhelds. Like almost everything in this world, it has its pros and cons. The type of disk the PSP uses is called a UMD. It is slightly smaller than a Gamecube disk, but holds .3GB more of data. That's 1.8GB. A PS2 and Xbox disk can hold 4.5GB. So in terms of storage capacity, the PSP does well. However, PS2 owners might be worried of a little something called the DRE(Disk Read Error). Fortunately, the PSP does not have a problem with this. That's not to say you will never get one, but chances are you probably won't, or won't get that many.

By using the disk based media, the PSP is not that durable. With moving parts inside it, it would be advisable not to drop it. It might still work, but, are you willing to risk $250? Some PSPs may have defects such as dead pixels, dust in the screen, or sticky buttons, but it is all covered in the warranty, so don't worry. The whole “twist your PSP and your UMD will come flying out” thing got fixed for the US release so don't worry about PSP ninjas attacking you with UMD shuriken.

The design of the PSP is awesome. The only console that looks better would be IMO the slim PS2. Sony knows what they're doing when they make consoles. It features the traditional square, circle, X, and triangle buttons on the other PlayStation consoles, as well as a D-pad. The PSP also has something called an analog nub. This is NOT an analog stick, it is sort of different. It slides in different directions to move whatever you're controlling on your screen. It takes some getting used to, and it's not as good as an analog stick, but it is better than nothing. The UMD and battery pack go in at the back of the system.

The battery life of the PSP is kind of disappointing. 4-6 hours is what Sony has said. I found with my inaccurate time telling skillz, that it lasted around 6 hours while playing a game, but I suppose if you use the PSP's wireless features it would eat up the battery faster. It also depends on the game you are playing and how often it accesses the laser. If you are listening to music, you should get about 8-10 hours, though I haven't listened to music on it that long to find out if it is true. When watching movies, the BL is about 3 hours. That should be enough to finish the movie. The battery is rechargeable which is definitely a good thing.

If you don't have an MP3 player, you might be thinking of getting a PSP and using it as your MP3 player. However, there is a problem. The PSP costs $250 right now, and a decent first party memory stick will cost you about $100(512MB). That is about how much an iPod shuffle costs. The 1GB memory stick costs about $150 which is about how much an iPod shuffle (1GB) costs. Then we have to factor in the fact that the DS is $100 cheaper. The result, you can buy a DS and an iPod mini for about the same price as a PSP and a good memory stick. So I don't really see the MP3 player thing giving the PSP any advantages over the DS. The UMD movies are sort of worthless IMO. Why would you want to pay extra money to watch a movie on a small screen? I'd much prefer watching Spiderman 2 on my TV. The movie selection isn't that great either. But Sony does have a big movie division so it should get more films.

What made the original PlayStation such a success? Many things, but one of them was its third party support. Sony systems have always had great third party support and so does the PSP. It had over 20 launch titles and has many more games on the way. There are no AAA titles on it yet, but with a GTA game coming, that might change. It has more third party support and games in development than the DS, but it is quality over quantity right? Some of the games available are, Lumines, Ridge Racer, Metal Gear Acid, Darkstalkers Chronicle, and Twisted Metal: Head On.

The PSP is an excellent portable system and is definitely a threat to Nintendo's portable gaming empire. The future looks bright for it, with many more games on the way. The price is very high right now ($250) and I suggest waiting for a price drop if I were you. The problem with that is that we don't know when one will come. Welcome to the age of portable gaming where you'll actually have to think about what to buy, not just go and grab the latest Gameboy. For those tired of Nintendo's games and systems, the PSP will provide a fresh new outlook on portable gaming.

Graphics: 10 Edge: PSP. The DS doesn't even come close.
Sound: 10 Edge: PSP. It's just better.
Design: 9.5 Edge: PSP. It's one sleek mean gaming machine.
Games: 7.5 Edge: DS. Right now the PSP has a much better library. But the future looks better for the DS, but I may have different tastes than you, so check out both systems' games.
Functions: 9 Edge: No clear winner here. The DS has functions that innovate gameplay, the PSP has multimedia functions. There is the whole iPod alternative to that though.
Overall: 9(not an average): Edge: PSP. The PSP is a better system. But the reason we buy gaming systems is for the games. So buy the system that suits you best.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/29/05

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