• Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) Review

Hey folks, Valkor here. And things are jumping in the Valcave as a brand new toy just recently arrived for yours truly to enjoy and test the hell out of it. Sony makes kick ass electronics. That’s all that needs to be said, most everyone knows that if Sony is slapped on it, then it has to be good. When they entered into the console gaming market I didn’t think they can pull it off. But two systems later and games beyond what the eye can see, Sony is holding their head up strong. Now they are taking on the handheld market, and from what I can see with the Sony PSP, it is perfection and holds well to the high standards that Sony Maintains and it looks to succeed where many have failed, which is to enter the handheld market currently dominated by Nintendo.

Sony PSP

The PSP aka the Playstation Portable is an all around entertainment device not just for gaming. We will get into that as we go along, but taken at face value the PSP takes some getting used to at first. It’s stretched more vertical than horizontal, you have two shoulder buttons, a D-pad, and analog control pad, 4 buttons, and a host of other buttons for easy navigation such as the Volume, Home button, a Special Volume button (which can enhance sound as you feel the need to), a headphone, ac and USB jacks. The screen is a 4” wide screen with a bright backlight that you can also set to either a higher or lower setting again depends on your need. (and whether or not you wanna save battery life). The new Sony Propriety UMD’s are loaded in the back of the device which is adorned with a big PSP logo. And finally you have a port for putting your memory stick, which you can have up to 1 gig for all your storage needs. Impressed? Hey this is just the outer shell, wait till we get to the inside.

Everything is controlled through the main menu system, which you must first set the date and time. This is pretty cool because as the months go by, the background color changes. If you want a particular color, just set it for that month, no need to wait for the change right? From the menu you can set up the wireless settings, access your videos and MP3’s from the Memory stick, access a saved game, or when you hook up the USB you can begin loading your memory card up. Going through this menu system is very easy and you will find yourself flying through it right out the box.

Sony PSP

Now we get into the meat of the matter. First Gaming: how is it? Excellent!! With my PSP I purchased two games (which this will be like a mini review of both). The first is Wipeout: Pure and the second is Untold Legends. Not since my Daytona days, have I ever had this much fun with a racing title, and Wipeout is kicking my ass. I’ve never got into the original Wipeout on the PS, so imagine my surprise when I found myself all up and in this game. Instead of cars you get these hover vehicles that zip around the track at break neck speeds. You have a few set tracks to choose from, plus you get additional tracks as you progress. Also you get 8 cars to play with and I think you can unlock more as you progress but I have not been able to…. Yet. You have many different modes of play but I always choose single player and tournament. With Single Player you can race the Alpha or Beta tracks as you choose, plus if you don’t do well the first time you can race again or continue forward. With Tournament it pits you against the other races head to head and you can’t replay the level, plus the computer keeps score and you get a gold, silver, or bronze medal depending on how you finish. And to make things even more interesting there are weapons that you can get when you fly over the colored pads. They blink off when you pass over them, so that if there is anyone behind you they are SOOL. (Shit Out Of Luck). Weapons consist of mines (rear) bombs (also rear), rockets (front) Disruptive (also front) a nitro boost, and a few others. If you need a quick speed injection, fly over the white arrow pad and that will send u soaring. To this day I cannot put WP down, it’s the most fun I can have on the PSP right now. It does have online play but I have yet to access it or play against another user, but that just means more practice time for when the big day comes. The other game I got was Untold Legends. It’s an ok action/RPG that I just cannot get into. Sorry if I don’t have too much detail into it. But for starts you get to choose your player be he a fighter or a mage, etc, what kind of weapons he uses and his stats as well as his race. The only thing I don’t like about this game is the weapons/items system where they use an actual graphic rather than a listing. Plus you can only carry a set number of items, which sucks because when you are in a dungeon and you happen across a cool sword or something and your pack is full with loot, something has to go or else you move on. When you’re traversing on screen, things tend to stutter a bit. Well not a bit, but a lot! And loading times are atrocious. Needless to say I will continue until the end of this game and maybe things will get better, though I am not sure. Otherwise graphics look good for both definitely on par with ps2, maybe just a bit under, but I see great things ahead. Sound wise, again they both sound great and if you want even better sound, hook up your PSP to speakers or a headset.

As for movies, the PSP stores them in MP4 format and it must end with MP4 or else they won’t work. The trick is to get an encoder, preferably 3GP which does a great job of converting whatever video into PSP compatible vids. I have heard that PS 9 video is the best, but since I can’t get it working (because it needs something call NET framework) I have yet to try. 3GP not only encodes but sets the filename to PSP specifics which is MVXXXXX1.MP4. You also need to create two additional folders before you can begin. Once you have your video and it fits on to your PSP memory card (It’s suggested that you get the 128 to 1 gig for bigger vids). Then you can drag and drop it on the PSP, in that secondary folder you created, set the screen size so the image fits proper and enjoy. I’ve tried several video and all have played superbly well with no stutter or glitching. There was one video where things got blurry really quick, but that could have been the kind of video it was or through encoding. Also the PSP makes use of that video power to play mini DVD’s. Sony released Spider-man 2 with the first 1 million PSPs on the market and it looks and sounds great!! It’s the perfect companion for on the go video viewing. Look for a slew of UMD’s in the coming months. The one I am waiting for is “Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children” which is the continuation of the events that happened in the original Final Fantasy 7 game.

Now with Mp3’s hmmmm this one is gonna be tricky. Not tricky as far as putting music in the system, but the thing is having the psp for a movie player is one thing, but for MP3 portability… that I guess depends on the person. I have the Zen Micro and that’s perfect for carrying around, but with the PSP I think I would be worried about bumping into something and cracking the screen. It’s simply too bulky to carry for Mp3 use. There’s a folder already set for storing Mp3’s, you simply drag your music to that folder. I haven’t gone in-depth with playlists and such, frankly I don’t care for all that I just wanna hear my music. But as far as MP3’s goes, it is great! You can use the included headphones which are perfect because they have a remote attached, or you can use your own. I use my Sennheiser headphones for that immersing experience. But man I would kill for a Bose headset.

Sony PSP

Now we must talk battery life. Sony says you can get, at best, 6 hours of battery life depending on how you use it and thus far that about holds up. I would have thought that by not having it attached to the ac adapter that the battery would just drain, but that’s not the case. I’ve spent a total 14 hour work day with my PSP and by the end of the night it was still going. No I didn’t play it 14 hours straight, but it came through whenever I found the time to play. The longest was 1 ½ hour. Also on my five hour flight to California, again the battery held after long periods of play. So the battery is good, and doesn’t drain too quickly, but don’t expect it to last for long hours play.

The PSP is just starting to get its legs and the games and movies are trickling out as we speak. So until the big stuff makes it way to the system, you will have a lot that you can do already with your PSP to tide you over till then. It is a great all around device with many options for you to toy around with. I didn’t comment on the wifi part, because I simply haven’t found a hotspot I can use and the Valcave isn’t equipped yet. YET! But until then make mine PSP and I’m a happy guy.