SONY PSP REVIEW: PSP SYSTEM

Sony's first entry into the handheld market has finally arrived after a couple of years of intense anticipation.

Please remember this is a mini review of the system only. You'll have to look for reviews of launch titles elsewhere.

My initial reaction after unpacking the system and turning it on went from elation to horror as I was confronted by no less than a half dozen dead pixels. Since I've heard numerous complaints about this, I was hoping I'd be spared the hassle. Unfortunately this isn't the case. I try and ignore them as I load up Gretzky and realize that they are far too distracting while trying to play. I do like that sweet screen though. I package the system and return it to an EB employee who must first check with his manager before exchanging it. I'm told this is the 11th return today and they are afraid they're going to run out of systems. Too bad. I paid my money. I want a system that works. The manager rubs his chin, perhaps in hopes that a fairy will appear and take him away from this career-ending decision and he finally gives Sentry #1 the greenlight to give me another system. But I'm too smart for these guys. I don't want just any system. I want to make sure this one is going to work, so I unpackage it there and test it. 4 dead pixels. Failure. Next. As they say, three times is the charm. The third PSP has no dead pixels and looks like a million bucks. That is the system I run home with.

I'm going to make this shorter than sweeter. The PSP screen is exactly what a handheld screen should be. It's crisp, clean and sharp and wide, man, is it wide. I love it. Especially the no "dead pixel" aspect. The analog stick is in a terribly awkward place. The only area it should be situated in is where the directional pad resides. Buttons feel solid and I haven't experienced the Square button problem so far and I'm assuming it will continue to perform well. The sound is tinny and is by far the system's weakest link. Head phones erase the problem and trust me when I say, using them is the only way to play.

The price of the system is pretty hefty, considering you're paying to play slightly dumbed down versions of games you probably already own on the PS2. I would like to see the PSP at $149 price point. Sooner rather than later.

Watching UMD's on the system is great although the UMD market isn't quite up to snuff with the DVD market in terms of extras. Still it's nice to be able to watch a movie on the go. Only the wealthiest among us will be able to outfit their UMD collection with great titles however because at $20+ each, you'll have to really want to own a particular favorite. If it's available, that is.

The system feels oddly delicate and that makes me nervous. I'm hard on things, usually by accident and I don't see the PSP surviving one of my usual mishaps. I was hoping the system would feel heavier and more durable, perhaps I'm a fatalist, but I don't see my PSP surving the year. Seriously.

The PSP is by far the finest handheld ever released at least in terms of picture quality, power, software and design and you might as well want to toss functionality on there as well (UMD movies, wireless online etc). I'm not impressed with the sheer amount of dead pixels and other design malfunctions consumers have been experiencing and I'm extremely skeptical that individual PSPs will survive the beating some gamers will certainly give it. I'm also extremely leary of Sony's support when it comes to addressing these issues once the PSP is off warranty. If history has shown us anything, Sony is not above using inferior parts and passing the repair costs over to their loyal customers - if anyone cares to argue with me about that let me say a few words which you can Google right now - PS2 Disc Read Error. As of this writing I haven't played any software on the PSP that I would consider a killer app or must have title as I've mentioned most titles seem to be lesser than versions of PS2 titles. If you've got the cash to spend on such frivolities of technology the PSP is a fun system and it will definitely be supported for a long time by Sony and other third party companies.

Pros:

  • Bright Sharp Colorful Widescreen
  • Analog control
  • Sleek design
  • Wireless Online
  • Lots of First and Third party software support
  • UMD movie support
  • 4 face buttons translates into more complex games

Cons:

  • Feels delicate and lightweight
  • Dead Pixels
  • Software seems rehashed
  • Tinny sound through speakers
  • Expensive system & games
PReview by Chris

Okay- we all have waited with anticipation for Sony to release the final price of the PSP. The system was rumored to have a launch price of $189.00 USD and that was a decent price. Then Sony suddenly allowed stores like EB and GameStop to take pre-orders. However, there was no set price? The only info for months was the system would be priced around $149.00-$189.00 and they had the price set at $400.00 by default. Then the stores got word that Sony was going to be offering a value bundle offering the PSP, adapter, 1 PSP accessory and 3 games. Yet, again no set price and launch of March 13 2005? Now we all now that Sony released the PSP in Japan for just under $200.00 USD and it included a hard case, adapter, memory stick and headphones with remote.

It was a decent price for a system that can do so much. The only thing not in the Japanese retail box was the USB cable and that soled for less than $10.00 USD.

The Sony hinted that the US release would be about the same and offer the same value for the North American gamers. I found it odd that the launch was getting closer and Sony set nothing. I also found that there was only 3 titles out of the original 30+ games announced in short I was asking Sony what the hell are you doing? The price of the value bundle has been set and lets just say the price is far from a value priced bundle. Depending on the accessory and the 3 games you choose this little handheld system is going to set you back almost $600.00 USD. The final items in the bundle in my mind are a joke a 32MB memory stick? Oh goody I can download what? 5 MP3 files thank you Sony! I think the fact that the system is almost $50.00 higher than the Japanese retail bundle and you have to buy 3 titles is a huge mistake. Everyone will have to by another memory stick a 512 MB one will add on $89.99 to the final cost of your bundle. Now I am trying to understand the pricing structure here. I just think Sony is really shafting the North American market with this bundle. You can't just get the bundle for $249.95 you have to order it with 3 games and the extra accessory.

If it had a bigger memory stick it might make sense to me. However, 32 MB on a system that needs to use the memory for everything is like offering a case made of paper to protect the PSP system (Useless)

Now I am impressed with the amount of release titles to choose from. Yet, there is going to be some hitches in the launch and I can see it already. Here is what the system will include and then I will tell you the potential hitches.

· Sony PSP system which includes: ($249.99)
o PSP Hardware
o 32 MB Memory Stick Duo
o Headphones with remote control
o Battery pack
o AC adaptor
o Soft case and cleaning cloth
o Movie/music/game video sampler UMD disc including multiple non-interactive game demo
o And for the first one million PSP Value Packs shipped, a special UMD video release of the feature film Spider-Man 2 from Sony Pictures Entertainment.
· One PSP accessory of your choice from a list of several launch accessories ($29.99 -149.99)
· Three games of your choice from the finalized list of launch titles ($39.99-49.99)

Now first of all okay you going to get a copy of Spiderman 2 the movie so what! I have that and I bet most others have the movie already. Will Sony be able to supply everyone at launch with the bigger memory stick they want $89.99? I sure hope so and then what about the games? You get to pick 3 and while the list is impressive some of the games are better than the rest and at $39.99-$49.99 for each it's going to add up quickly. I see a shortage of memory sticks and the popular games also okay it does come with a soft case but the bottom line is Sony has really taken the system and set it at a price that is going to hurt the wallet big time. This is a handheld system not a new home console you would think Sony would want to set it a bit cheaper and not make it a set bundle? Then again this is Sony we are talking about. I don't dislike Sony although I have to wonder the wisdom here at the pricing and the late timing of the price. I mean people have pre-ordered this system months ago. Well, I will get one but let me just say that the final price and the fact of the low amount of memory Sony is adding to the bundle seems a bit cheap! You then may as well add another $10- $15.99 for the USB cable or you won't be able to make use of the systems full potential.

I know I may sound harsh on Sony and it may seem a little like a rant. I am just surprised a little at the pricing and let's face it is expensive. Of course the system will sell I try and let the member know what is going on and give you the latest news. I still think Sony waited too long to set the price and is really taking advantage of those who want this little system. I also think the bundle could have had a bit more demo's and a movie is nice. It would have been wiser to offer more memory and a hard shell case something people could really use! Here is the list of games that will be offered at launch on March 24 and if you have this ordered you better go in to the store you placed the order at and pre-order the 3 games and your 1 accessory so your sure it will be available when you go to pick it up. I hope the launch will go smoothly but with the way Sony has set it up its bound to have some problems. I have included the final list of games that will be available at launch. A great selection I just wish Sony would have set the price at $249.95 and then allowed buyers to choose if they wanted to buy extra's right away. In any case be prepared and get ready to drop a massive amount of cash in one day!

Games available at Launch: (Please note Games are Subject to Change)

ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails Ape Escape: On the Loose Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower Dynasty Warriors FIFA 2005 Gretzky NHL Lumines
Metal Gear Acid MLB
MVP Baseball NBA
NBA Street Showdown Need for Speed Rivals
NFL Street 2 Unleashed Rengoku: Tower of Purgatory
Ridge Racer
Smartbomb
Spider-Man 2
Tiger Woods PGA Tour Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix
Twisted Metal: Head-On
Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade
Wipeout Pure
World Tour Soccer

PSP System & Specs:

· Dimensions (WxDxH): 6.7 in x 2.91 in x 0.91 in
· Weight: 8.36 oz
· Controller: D-pad
· Processor: MIPS R4000
· Processor Clock Speed: 1-333MHz
· Processor (2nd): MIPS R4000
· Processor Clock Speed (2nd): 1-333MHz
· Main Memory: 32MB
· Video Memory: 2MB EDRAM
· Fill Rate (pixels): 664 Mpixels/s
· Fill Rate (triangles): 33 Mtriangles/s
· Display: 4.3" 16:9 widescreen TFT LCD
· Resolution: 480x272
· Colors: 16.77 million colors
· Brightness:
o Maximum luminance 180 / 130 / 80cd/m2 (when using battery pack)
o Maximum luminance 200 / 180 / 130 / 80cd/m2 (when using AC adaptor)
· Speakers: Built-in stereo speakers
· I/O Connectors: 1 x audio out, 1 x microphone, 1 x control connector, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x Memory Stick Pro Duo, IrDA, IR remote. Allows simultaneous multiple PSPs to be connected.
· Integrated Communications: 802.11b Wi-Fi
· Media Drive: UMD Drive
· The UMD: The small, high-capacity optical medium Universal Media Disc (UMD). Allows for 1.8 GB of space and provides an extremely versatile format for games, music, and video.
· Codec:
o [Video]: "UMD": H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Main Profile Level3
o [Video]: "Memory Stick": MPEG-4 SP, AAC
o [Music]: "UMD": linear PCM, ATRAC3plus
o [Music}: "Memory Stick": ATRAC3plus, MP3 (MPEG1/2 Layer3)
o [Photo]: JPEG (DCF2.0/Exif2.21)
· Data Transfer: The wireless LAN connections, USB connections, or the use of a Memory Stick PRO Duo.
· Power: PSP's battery is a removable, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It's possible to charge the PSP while using the system.
· Buttons: Square, Triangle, X, and Circle face buttons, a digital pad, start, select, an analog thumb stick and two shoulder buttons on the top.
· Basic Portable Functions: Exterior headphone connector, brightness control and sound mode selectors.
· Protection: A robust copyright protection system utilizes a combination of a unique disc ID, a 128-bit AES encryption key for media, and individual ID for each PSP unit.

PReview by Chris

Writing for a game site is not as easy as some would like to think. I say this not to brag or make it sound like those who do write for a game site are gaming gods or know it alls. In fact the only real difference between us and most other gamers is the fact we where lucky enough to get a shot at writing about something we enjoy. I will say the hard part is at times not to hype something up to much. It's hard at times we want to write about the newest games and systems. While we also have to rely on our knowledge and our gut feeling about certain things and make the call. At times we hit the mark and then there are times when we miss the target. I watched the news about the 2 new handheld systems for a while before even thinking of writing a preview. I then wrote the first preview of a new system since the launch of our site the Nintendo DS. Now it's time to look at Sony's PSP system after all we want to be fair and show each system and what they offer.

Sony was first to go public with their announcement of their handheld system. It really was no surprise after all at E3 2002 Sony made the bold statement "The home console war is over and we have won" After hearing this sound bite and reading the press release it sort of bothered me. If you remember when Sony launched their first home system they where in the same boat as Microsoft's Xbox I guess they forgot that things could change? Of course I came home and wrote my thoughts about the comments and 2 years later Sony and Xbox are battling for the number one spot. Now Sony is after the handheld market and if anyone can pull this off it ay just be Sony. The PSP is more than a gaming system it's a mini multi media machine and loaded with power and options. To be honest all of the things this little machine can do are still not announced. It certainly is a nice looking machine but will it be a bit too much for one system?

Sony's PSP will feature Usb ports to connect to the computer and the PS2. While also having a 4.3 16:9 widescreen LCD screen this will be almost as crisp as your expensive home HDTV. Impressive to say the least and then there is what is inside powering the system. Inside the system will have a 333MHz PSP CPU made by Sony especially for the PSP. It will have 32MB of main memory and 4MB of embedded DRAM. Its built-in lithium-ion battery will have a life of 2.5 hours with video and 10 hours if used for audio playback only. It will also have a headphone jack for personal enjoyment. For media, the PSP will use Sony's new Universal Media Disc. The new format will be able to hold 3 times the amount of data that a normal CD can hold. The screen shots show off the new disc format and for a smaller disc that is very impressive. Sony is also planning on launching several add-ons to work with the new system and of course the system will have duel speakers.

Behind all the high-tech talk this little black machine is built for almost anything. While keeping the buttons and features found on a PS2 controller and is light in weight. Sony also is going to use memory sticks for added storage. It sounds really good and the footage I have seen makes this one neat little system. Again, the only thing that may hurt this system is the fact it was made to do so much. It may sound strange but this can either help or hurt the whole system. Of course the system is not out for us to have had a chance to play it and test it for ourselves. Sony is going to launch the system in Japan this Christmas System and then launch it in North America in early 2005.

Click For Media
System: PSP
Dev: Sony
Pub: Sony
Released: Mar 2005
Review by Dean
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
SOFTWARE
3.5
SOUND
2.5
SCREEN
5.0
VALUE
3.0