A PS2 in Your Pocket
The wait is finally over and now people can get their hands on the latest in handheld gaming - Sony’s PSP, or Playstation Portable. The PSP features a 4.3-inch, 16:9 widescreen TFT LCD that displays dazzling full colour (16.77 million colours) on a 480 x 272 pixel high-resolution screen. Graphics are crisp and intense - opening up the doors to a huge assortment of different gaming titles, as well as movie content. It also comes complete with built-in stereo speakers, exterior headphone connector and a range of input/output connectors such as USB 2.0 and 802.11b Wireless LAN, enabling users to connect to the Internet and play online via a Wireless Network.
Up to 16 PSP systems in the vicinity can also be connected to each other directly in Ad Hoc Mode, allowing for Wireless head-to-head competition. In addition, Wireless capabilities will allow software and data to be downloaded to PSP and saved onto Memory Stick Duo.
One of the advantages of our delayed release date here in NZ, Australia and the UK is that we will have a wealth of PSP gaming titles available with the PSP launch. The PSP games line-up features a stunning selection of 29 titles spanning a wide range of genres, all designed to make the most of the PSP (see our reviews for some of the titles out there). Apart from original games - some of the best PlayStation 2 titles have been reinvented for the new format, offering something for everyone - from sports, racing, action, puzzle, first-person shooting and role-playing genres. The PSP Value Pack currently retails for around $429.95 (incl. GST) and includes: The Sony PSP Console, soft carry pouch, 32MB Memory Stick Duo, Battery Pack, Headphones with remote control, AC adaptor, wrist strap, screen cloth and a UMD sampler disc. Please note that the value pack does not come with a game, only non-interactive game demos. Retail stores will be offering different deals on the launch date - look for good customer service or any extra promotional give-aways when purchasing.
WALK TO YOUR OWN PERSONAL SOUNDTRACK
As well as being able to save MP3’s of your choice to memory sticks for PSP playback, UMDs will also enable music companies to release full-length albums featuring audio content and innovative video footage. The format can be used for full-length concerts and music video compilations and along with the PSPs impressive sound output quality - could add a new dimension to the portable music market.
“By combining the worlds of music and video in a single disc, this new initiative will provide artists with exciting new ways of connecting with their fans, as well as with additional opportunities for creative expression, “ commented Philip Wiser, Chief Technology Officer, Sony Music Entertainment. “We are delighted that Sony Computer Entertainment has recognised the importance of music to the gaming community, and have agreed to work with music companies to provide artists with a wide array of new creative opportunities. Music and music video releases on UMD have the potential to provide both music and games consumers with dramatically expanded value.”
The Future of the PSP?
On August 12th, Sony Computer Entertainment released a firmware update for the US PSPs that gave the handheld a number of new functions, including a Web browser feature that lets users tap into wireless hot spots to surf the Internet. With the addition of a Web browser, PSP owners can now download movies directly from the Internet and watch them on their handheld.
Further improvements to the PSP’s movie-viewing experience will include adding a function to watch streaming videos and this may mean plans to introduce Digital Rights Management functions in a future update, which will allow for paid content to be watched on the handheld.
The Web browser function should also benefit future game releases. Since users can bring up the browser during gameplay, publishers may be more inclined to add downloadable content to their games’ official sites. For example, a player can pause a game, go to the game’s site, download new data, and resume playing the game with new content.
However, despite the new update including a Web browser, one thing the machine still lacks is an e-mail application. Users may be able to take advantage of some Web-based e-mail sites, but there is now rumour of a new mail program for the PSP being developed that will let users communicate with one another using both video and voice. Last but not least, one of the dangers in surfing around the Internet and email has always been the threat of virus infection. Although Sony claim that the PSP can’t be fiddled with like a PC and that viruses shouldn’t be a problem - they will be alert to make sure countermeasures exist in cases of viruses appearing on the handhelds.