Its been a week now since I got my Sony PSP so, here is a review of my impressions.
When we first got the PSP, both me and nat were completely surprised at how cool the screen was. It was stunning, nothing like anything we had seen before. Now, a week later, the screen still does look as good but of-course the shock and awe period is over. The colors and the contrast are really perfect. When one of us is playing the other one can still see the screen. The viewing angle didn’t seem to matter much, wherever the other person sits next to you, they will be able to see the screen. The 2 dead pixels are totally invisible. They are still there but they are so small you can’t see them, only when the screen is completely black you might be able to spot them, depending on how good your eyesight is. The screen is huge, and I am sure some people will manage to break it, and that makes me wonder, how much will a replacement screen cost and can it be replaced?
The buttons are all laid out like the PS2 controller. The analog controller isn’t what I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be larger and more like the analog controllers on the ps2 and xbox joy-pads, but the one on the psp is smaller and slides in different directions and doesn’t tilt. Its awkward to use but maybe I could get used to it. Until I do though I am have been using the regular directional pad for 95% of the time. One major problem I have is the Power/Sleep button. Its located to the right of the device and sometimes when I get excited and press the R button on top hard, the whole device moves in my hand and that results in me accidently activating the power switch and putting my PSP to sleep. It hasn’t happened a lot but enough for me to mention it as a problem. Luckily they must have thought about this and there is a HOLD button which stops the PSP from accidently getting turned on or off. The start and select buttons are located under the screen next to the mute and brightness buttons. When the room is dark its hard to find the start button and you cant really feel your way to it since it isn’t extruding from the PSP that much. It would have been a lot cooler if the buttons under the screen had backlighting but then I guess it would be annoying when playing games.
How does it feel holding the PSP? It’s not perfect but definitely feels better then holding the GameBoy SP. The gameboy SP was squarish and tiny, it never felt comfortable in my hands. The PSP on the other hand is much wider and so allows me to stretch my fingers completely underneath it. I would have preferred it if the PSP had more rounded edges but I am sure it would have made it look a lot uglier.
The Battery Life
When I first got the PSP I was expecting that I would face battery problems but I haven’t yet. The PSP is like a PDA or a phone, you use it through out the day at different intervals, then at night before you sleep you put it on charge. You can save battery life by dimming the screen a bit, it has 3 brightness settings, low, med and high. When the room is dark I have it on low since the high brightness is blinding, this also helps extend the battery life. You can actually keep it on the low setting all the time since really its not low at all and is very usable. Anyway basically I did not have any battery problems. Incase you will be traveling on a long flight, my advice is get an extra battery for $40. Its as easy as replacing the battery on your walkman.
I was concerned with load time. I thought the load times would be a real pain. Well they are not. Since most of us own PS2s or Xbox’s then we are used to load times. But the PSP has one advantage over the PS2 and Xbox, sleep mode. With sleep mode you never have to load a game from start which is when most of the loading time goes. Instead, when you want to stop playing, you just hit the power switch and it puts the PSP to sleep. When you want to play again you hit the power switch again and it instantly comes on and you are back to where you left off. You can go to sleep at any point in the game, even in a middle of a race if you want. Its very practical. Load times from menu to game takes around 10 seconds, depending on the game but you don’t really notice it since we are already used to it from our xboxs and ps2s.
You can mount the PSP as an external hard-drive on your PSP by connecting it via USB. Thats if you have a memory-stick installed. Once you connect the PSP to your computer you can do many things. Mainly though you can copy movies, pictures and music onto the PSP. I got a software for my mac called iPSP, this software allows me to sync my PSP with iPhoto, iTunes and even converts any movie I have on my Mac so that it becomes viewable on the PSP. The biggest advantage of this USB connectivity is that you are now able to backup your game-saves AND most importantly, download other peoples saves from the web onto your PSP. Say for example you don’t have the time, skill or patience to open up all the cars in Need For Speed (cough cough like me cough cough) you can just download a 100% Complete save from the web and then copy it onto your PSP and just like that you now have all the cars and money you could ever dream of. Its all very easy. If you have wifi at home you can connect your PSP to the web to play multiplayer games or to download updates. It was very easy to connect the PSP to the local network and once I did it I was able to click the Download Content button in the game WipeOut Pure and the PSP opened up a web browser and took me to the WipeOut site. They didn’t have any content for me to download but when they will I would be able to get it. Once you are connected to the web there is a button in the main menu which checks and sees if your PSP has the latest software installed, if not, then it would download it for you and install it. In the near future you will be able to play games online against other people but at the moment no online multiplayer games exist.
I have WipeOut Fury, Tony Hawk and Need For Speed.
Tony Hawk – With Tony Hawk I was able to map my face onto a skater! I always wanted to do that. Basically what you do is you take your picture (I used my passport photo), and you save it as a 128×128 pixel jpg and you copy it onto your psp. Then in the game there is an option to download face, you click it, find your picture and press ok. Thats it, then you make minor adjustmants like skin tone and stuff and you are done. In the picture above I was trying to get my nose the right proportion. The game in general is basically exactly like the console versions. If you want a full review check out IGN.
WipeOut Pure – Wipeout is a showoff the system graphics game. Everytime I am showing off the PSP to someone I load Wipeout. Its fast, its 3D and its futuristic.
Need For Speed – This is currently the most game I play. Its extremely fast, and the graphics are also cool. Its my pick up and play anywhere game.
The PSP is definitely the coolest portable game system out there. The only competition is the Nintendo DS which pales in comparison. The PSP is not cheap but its not meant for kids either. The PSP is also not just a game system, its a portable entertainment center. Its a movie player, music player, picture viewer, videogame system and maybe in the future an internet browser. The system has a lot of potential and I am person waiting for MAME to be ported to the PSP, that would kick ass. Final score 4.5 out of 5.