I know there are probably dozens of PSP reviews out there, but seeing as I just got one for more or less free, I probably have less emotion in justifying the $250 I just potentially wasted on an overpriced POS hardware. Luckily, mine cost $10, so my emotional investment equates to nearly, well, 0.00%. So what's the word from a relatively unbiased source?
OH MY DEAR LORD THIS IS THE MOST AWESOME LETHAL HANDHELD GAMING DEVICE EVER ASSEMBLED BY MORTAL MAN.
That's the condensed version. The list of electronic devices that have induced this level of awe is quite short, and the PSP positively owns that list at the moment.
There's almost no point in going on about how the PSP looks as everybody has probably seen one by now; It's sleek, black and oh-so sexy. Picking the unit up reveals some serious heft. There's no doubt that the PSP is more than just a hunk of plastic and is packing serious hardware under the hood. The face is laid out much like a PS2 controller, so there is almost no acclimation phase in using the thing.
But we all know looks aren't everything. They get your foot in the door, but after that, you gotta perform, and that's something the PSP does from boot to power down. First, the OS is refined and gorgeous. Like the chassis, it is smooth and easy to navigate. While there are quite a few options to fiddle with, many of them don't become useful until later with either a mini USB cable or wireless LAN connection at your disposile. Even in it's out of the box capacity, it's still a good indicator of things to come.
So besides turning it on, what was the first thing I did with my PSP? Pop in the sampler disc, of course! Actually, "preview disc" would be a more accurate descritpion of the game since all it did was show the in game graphics of released titles. Even so, it did it's job well, and I was salivating over the likes of Wipeout and Ridge Racer. Obviously, there was only one thing to be done. An hour later I was out the door and found the nearst McVan's in search of Ridge Racer. As it turns out, they didn't have it, but the trip was not wasted-- One of the reps pulled out his PSP and launched a demo movie for the upcoming PS3 game "Killzone". Beside the fact that the game graphics were insane in their own right, this guy had downloaded the movie from the internet and stored it on his PSP, which was playing back smooth as silk. My jaw dropped. It wouldn't be anything I could do on my 32mb weenie stick, but the potential was there. This movie also showcased the vibrant- not to mention generous -display. I'm gonna save any handheld vs handheld comparisons for later, but I can tell you one thing: It's absolutely gorgeous.
But I had a game to buy. So I found myself an EB and traded 3 XBox games to get Ridge Racer at half price. Let the playing begin! Now we had a rel test of the systems capabilities and I can tell you right now, it passes that test with flying colors. Ridge Racer performed so close to PS2 quality there might as well not have been any difference. Sure there are a few details here and there, but for the most part it's solid gold. Lighting, car modeling, environment... It's no exaggeration to say you're holding a PS2 in the palm of your hand (or almost a PS2 if you want to be picky) and the beautiful screen only amplifies the experience. While I haven't really had a chance to use the wireless features yet, i can tell you that battery game time is very sufficient and hardly as bad as I've seen it exaggerated. That may change once you go wireless, but to be fair, wireless will suck the life out of ANY handheld device. I'll get into comparisons vs. other gaming handhelds later.
The next order of business was to get into the guts of the thing. Having procurred a USB cable, I hooked it up to my PC and was ready to rock. Well, almost. The computer wasn't seeing my PSP as a drive. Hmmm. After some poking and prodding, i find you have to set the PSP to "USB mode" in order to establish the link, and once that was done, the computer picked up quite easily. After that, it was quite easy to drag anything I wanted onto the PSP memory stick ...which amounted to a whole 5 songs and a picture. Mental note: Next purchase 1gig memory stick.
Now we have media with which to test the OS capabilities more fully. The MP3s play flawlessly and the inline controller sony packed in with the headphones integrates prefctly into their playback. Speaking of headphones, these aren't just any POS buds you'll find packed in with a lot of todays audio equipment. I haven't been able to test the PSP with a large archive of MP3s to see how well the unit actually handles them, but this inital test is a point in the PSPs favor as it handeled a variety of tracks without complaint. Next was a photo I had grabbed off my HDD. Again the display reproduced it beautifully and without complaint. Infact, a number of ooptions are available when browsing your photos, including a slideshow, zoom, and rotation. very well thought out.
sorry, i haven't been able to do movies yet. The memory stick is too small for that, but a 512-1g stick is the definitely my next purchase.
There are a lot of websites that will lead you top believe that the PSP and its nearest competitor, the Nintendo DS are somehow close in nature in terms of capabilities and value. They're not. not by a longshot. Now I'll be honest-- My DS expereince is limited to playing it on display in stores, but I've played two games vs. my one on the PSP. That aside, I'll try to be as unbiased as possible. After all, it's not as if I really paid for my PSP anyway.
The PSP totally annihilates the DS in nearly every way, shape and form. Infact, the only area that the PSP doesn't absolutely stomp the DS is in terms of battery life, and THAT's only because the DS isn't powering a 1.8 gigabyte disc or a 16:9 widescreen TFT LCD. Ok, I understand that you can touch the display. That's... nifty. Really. But Mullet, don't forget price! Yes, the price is certainly lower on the DS, but I would like everybody to keep this one fact in mind:
You get what you pay for.
Anybody looking at that rationally would tell you right off that for $250, the value you're getting is probably better than the DS you're getting at $150. The PSP provides five to six times the capability and value for only double the price. Let's face it, you're getting a full blown movie player, MP3 player, Photo archive, wireless capabilities and of course... A PS2 in the palm of your hands.
Now for your eight year old kid, there is no chance that I would ever suggest getting him a PSP. There's a reason you don't let him play with an iPod and it's the same reason you wouldn't let him touch a PSP. But for everybody else, would I recommend a PSP at $250? Most definitely. Even if your purpose is only gaming? Yep. Even if all you wanted to do was game and not EVER use the other features, I would still recommend a PSP over a DS. I've played Metroid and i've played Ridge Racer. I owned a GBA if it matters any. Unless you absolutely hate Sony, your $250 is WELL spent here. There's no freakin' contest.