Sony PSP


Recommended Posts

I?ll try to post pictures that aren't too similar to the millions of other PSP pics around the web so you won't see anything like box opening shots, everyone's seen the:happy:y: the closest you're going to get are these shots, taken before I was whisked away into the world of Ridge Racers:


13.jpgInitial boot, English anyone?b>

Upon first charging the unit, the very first thing you're asked (in English and Japanese) is what language you would like XMB (the PSP's Operating System) to be in. Naturally I chose English and from here on in 99.9% is in English (more on the other 0.1% in a minute). The first ever startup sequence is similar to the Nintendo DS in that it asks for the date, time and your nickname. The difference between the 2 is that a) the PSP's sequence looks a hell of a lot nicer b) the DS requires a reboot after entering the settings.

Text entry (for things like name etc) is done via an on screen keyboard, but it's not a qwerty style layout, it's a mobile phone style layout. Initially it comes up with Kanji pressing select brings up an English keypad, this is the last remnants of Japanese.

After the initial boot you'll be left in XMB (I've heard it stands for Cross Media Bar, but god knows). It's a very, very slick interface; from the initial shots of it a few months ago you'd recognise it as a blue interface but upon release it was red. This is dictated by the month of the year, each month has a different colour background. The backdrop isn't user changeable (yet, FW in the future?) so you have swishy lines slowly undulating around the screen. First impressions are that it shows off the screen very well, but it's not until you experience the splendour of Ridge Racers that it really shows itself off for the stunning display it is."That screen"...b>

Words, pictures and video alone simply cannot do this screen justice. Nothing I or anyone else can post on the internet will match up to what this display looks like in the flesh. Credit to Sharp for creating such a beautiful display, I believe they created the DS screens as well but the difference is like day and night. I realise Nintendo have gone for a different approach with the dual screens but when they're sat next to each other on my desk I can't help but feeling that the DS is last gen and the PSP is leaps and bounds ahead as a next gen handheld.

Now I'm not going to get the weighing scales out, the ruler is staying in my draw and you're only going to get my impressions of the PSP against the DS hardware and looks wise. Here's a pic of the 2 screens against each other (PSP with its lowest brightness):


The DS has 2 options; backlight on and backlight off. The PSP has 3/4, when running on battery you have low (comparable to the DS screen in terms of brightness), medium and high. When running on AC there's a 4th insanely bright "sunglasses" mode; I can't see anyone using this option as it's so unbearably bright, but it does demonstrate the capabilities of the PSP LCD.Defects?b>

I have to admit I was worried about the hardware, you can't help but read all the horror stories (and admire the quirky animations) of stuff like UMDs flying out, analogue discs breaking off, dust under screens, air bubbles under screens, dead pixels, squeaky d-pads, squeaky square buttons, misaligned square buttons etc. The list goes on. Now, I was either extremely fortunate, or it's been blown way out of proportion. Yes I realise that there will be defects, the DS I bought for my cousin has a dead pixel, it happens, but I've had none of the above. The closest I've had is the d-pad squeaked a single time when I first pressed it but never again. I don't have a single dead pixel (I seem to be lucky with this, must be about the 5th time I've been lucky...) and the unit seems as solid as a rock. Value Pack contentsb>

One thing I will say is that this thing attracts fingerprints like gadgets attract Dazzl:happy:y: accompanying the PSP everywhere is a glasses lens cleaning cloth I bought specifically for that purpose. That stays in the (rather poor) "slip" that comes with the Value Pack. I don't want to call it a case, or a pouch; it merely slips round the PSP like a glove would your hand, leaving the edge of the PSP exposed. There's going to be a massive market for cases I'll tell you that for nothing, buy shares no:D:D

So, that's 1 out of the 4 extras that although welcome, isn't too well thought out. Thankfully the rest are top quality, the Memory Card will be wasted in around 50% of PSP owners I imagine. This is thanks to the 32MB size, if you're thinking of taking advantage of the PSP's multimedia capabilities then don't bother taking the 32MB card out of the wrapper, I didn't. I'd already snapped up a 512mb Memory Stick Duo Pro with MagicGate. Now I didn't buy a Sony one because they're ridiculously expensive. I picked up a Sandisk card for ?49.99 (I believe you can pick them up for ~$70 in the US). The Pro merely refers to the transfer speed but when you're hitting this size of card you're not really going to be able to buy a non-pro card. The card itself from Sandisk comes with an adapter to use in regular Memory Stick slots, something I've found handy when using the media card reader I've got.



The last two extras in the value pack are the headphones and the remote. The headphones are pretty good, they feel better in the ear than the default iPod headphones (and look pretty damn similar hey Sony?) and the sound quality is pretty impressive. I'll definitely be using them for both this and my iPod. The remote on the other hand is about as helpful as the iPod remote, containing the same damn buttons. Next, Previous, Play/Pause, Vol Up, Vol Down and a hold switch. I'd have liked it to have had an LCD display, or failing that accepting MD remotes so I could use my (no redundant) MD remote, but you can't, it doesn't fit. Still, it does the job, doesn't feel tacky and lightweight like the IGN impression said. Definitely on par with the iPod remoteMultimedia/b>

Now, this is what makes the PSP as attractive as it is. Not only is it the relative graphical powerhouse with the full brunt of Sony's marketing department but it's got an impressive line up of multimedia capabilities. The first and easiest one is music, from what I've tested it only supports WAV, MP3 and Atrac. The PSP will also playback protected Atrac songs purchased from Sony's online music store if you have a memory stick with MagicGate on it (as the Sandisk and default stick has). What everyone's interested in is MP3 playback. Well, it's certainly no iPod level of intuitiveness in the interface. It's limited (from what I've tested) in that you can't use .m3u playlists, Gamespot led me to believe you can (in that they explicitly said it supports them) so I'm going to keep my eyes open. As a result, unless you're listening to an album with filenames like "01 - Song.mp3", "02 - Song.mp3" then it's not really in any sort of order (alphabetically I believe). There also seems to be a limitation in how deep your subfolders can go. I initially had \Artist\Album\Song.mp3, it would see the Artist folder but indicate "0 tracks", changing it to \Artist - Album\Song.mp3 allowed the folder to show (with Album Art) and to open the folder where you're presented with a list of tracks. It has full support for ID3 info as well as album art:



by default the information and controls aren't on screen. Left and right on the D-Pad can fast forward and rewind (1x, 2x and 3x), L and R navigate between tracks and Start is Play/Pause. Pressing triangle brings up the controls you see in the pics above. It's all fairly standard with Shuffle, 1 repeat, all repeat etc. One thing I don't know anything about though is the + and - in the square, it has something to do with "Grouping", a playlist functionality of some sorts? One of the downsides of importing is no English manual so it's a wait and see for this feature.

In a similar fashion to MP3 playback being slightly limited (or so it seems), video playback from UMD is as well. The first and most obvious limitation is that you don't just dump movie files into a "MOVIE" folder like you dump MP3s into a "MUSIC" folder. You have to fart about renaming the file to "M4V00001.MP4" and placing them in a certain folder (which you have to create), they have to be placed in L:\MP_ROOT\100MNV01 with "L" being whatever your MS/PSP appears in My Computer.

The second and more annoying limitation is in the resolution of video file it takes. The bad new being that you can't have 480*272 (PSP native) resolution movies running from MS. For the PSP to recognise the files they have to be 320*240, from there you have 4 display options:

Original (borders at top and bottom, original 320*240 res)

Normal (slightly zoomed in so it touches the top and bottom of screen)

Zoom (similar to widescreen TVs where the content fills the screen and beyond)

Full screen.

Full screen is the option I use all the time, it makes the movie touch the borders of all 4 sides. If you convert a 16:9 movie into 320*240 then use full screen it will stretch it back out and retain the correct ratio.

In all honesty it looks really good, but it's just frustrating that Sony seems to have crippled this function (probably in the hope you'll buy movies on UMD). Take a look at a movie of Finding Nemo running on the PSP, it also demonstrates how good the viewing angle is on the PSPMovie 1 - Right click to download/b>

Needless to say the movie playback is a flawed gem, could've been better but it's still oh so go:yes:es: I won't dwell on photos on the PSP because it's quite boring, you put them on and then view them. There's the option of a slide show as well (slide being the operative word, no transition effects they merely slide over)Battery life, 90 minutes? 37 seconds? 19 hours? Find out here.../b>

Now this argument over battery life will go on, and on, and on. Regardless of review, impressions, tests and pointless forum arguments; so let's get the easy one out of the way. It's not as good as the DS's battery life.

There, the obvious and easy one out of the way, so what's the battery life really like? Well, now I've had it for a few days one thing's for sure, there's a hell of a lot of variables. Here's a breakdown of some times I've taken note of:

Ridge Racers, Medium Brightness, 80% Vol, headphones: 4:27

MP3 playback, headphones, 80% Vol: 10:48

Video playback from MS, Medium Brightness, 80% Vol: 5:14

Ridge, Max Brightness, 100% Vol, Speakers: 3:07

Sleep: >24 hours

Now, that isn't the be all and end all of battery tests by far, because if I turn the brightness up to max (which I find too bright), and the sound up to max with speakers on (which I find an unusable scenario, headphones or medium volume all the way) then you get 3:07 on Ridge Racers. So you can see how dramatically it effects the battery time. Turning wireless on will reduce that figure even further but I have no other PSP to test that.

I'd say in realistic scenarios (i.e. how I've been using the PSP for the last week) you'll get between 4 and 5 hours in Ridge Racers. That's not half bad if you ask me, moving other to other areas and it performs extremely well in my opinion. I got over 10 hours of MP3 playback with the PSP, which absolutely slaughters my iPods battery life. That once confusing "comparable to other similar devices battery life" statement by Sony all that time ago suddenly rings true. With Media functions the limitation is no longer the battery but the Memory Stick, the battery will outlast the amount of media I have on there! So I've got no complaints at the battery life. When I get Lumines I'll give battery life stats on that as well, but by all accounts I'll get between 5 and 6 hours when used like I play Ridge RacersRidge Racers/b>

Well, I was quietly pessimistic about Ridge Racers, I hadn't played a Ridge game since RRR on the PSOne (which I adored and played to death), I missed out 4 and 5 so I was wondering how it'd progressed. Well, I've not been disappointed, this game is so damn good. Deserving of the 37/40 in Famitsu, it's so much damn fun. There's nothing like thrashing your car around an insanely tight corner just inside a competitor with a godlike drift to fill up your Nitro bar and boost away from them to win the race. It's so damn exhilarating.

As ever drifting is a big part of the game, wholly unrealistic but it makes for quality gameplay, the twist on this version being that drifting slowly fills up a Nitro bar (of which there are 3), when one is filled the cheesy commentator will let you know in no uncertain terms to use the damn boost. Pressing R will initiate the boost which brings online the Nitro you've been building up, depleting a single Nitro bar in whole. The effect is something similar to Burnout 3 (I believe, I've never played it) where it all becomes a kind of blue and the sense of speed is quality!

There's been a lot of discussion about the analogue stick/nub/disc. I'm going to call it a disc because it doesn't vary in angle, it merely slides across the surface hovering 1 or 2 mm above the PSP. I use this when playing Ridge Racers and contrary to what's been said so far I found it very comfortable, no cramps or anything and that's with 5 hour Ridge sessions.

Graphically this the/b> game to show off to friends, it really highlights the deficit between the DS and the PSP in terms of hardware. Of course you'll have people arguing "why should I buy a PSP just to play tired old PS2 games when I cam play new innovative games on my DS?" well, that's entirely up to you. You'll get people who will love games like Wario Ware on the DS (:happy:py: ) and people that love games like Ridge Racers on the PSP (:happy:py: ). There's no "you're not a true gamer, you're not hardcore enough, you're too mainstream" this is about what games you like. At the end of the day that's what should sell a console and both of these will have their fair share of AAA titles. But in terms of pure graphics (and audio) the PSP absolutely slaughters the DS, even the biggest Nintendo fan can't deny that.

Now we approach a weakness (if you're that bothered), loading times. Again, I'm not going to get the stopwatch out, I'm going to show you a video. It's of the PSP going from the XMB menu, through to loading Ridge Racers, into a race and racing the first lap. Make your own judgementsMovie 2 - Right click to download/b>

This is where the DS excels and if you hate loading times, you'll probably be frustrated. Personally I don't mind when the end result is like it is and I find the loading times perfectly acceptable. That's the end of that.

So, hopefully I've incorporated enough into this review. Hopefully it wasn't too long and if it was hopefully the pics were enough to allow you to leave the thread satisfi:D :D I'll finish with a few more shots of the PSP doing a bit of modelli:whistle:le:












Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! Fantastic review!!

Myself, I'm saving for the DS, but I might also get the PSP! That Ridge Racers game looks great! For a game like that, I wouldn't mind those loading times!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.