When PlayStation Portable (PSP) was first launched by Sony in 2005, the Nintendo DS, which was launched earlier in 2004, gave it a tough competition. The PSP was a great gaming console, and used Sony’s optical UMD (Universal Media Disc) format exclusively as its storage media. It had a large LCD screen with great multimedia functionality and wireless networking. Its main competitor the Nintendo DS, on the other hand, had a clamshell design with dual screens and the bottom screen had touchscreen abilities. The DS also had a microphone and Wi Fi capabilities- a bit too much for the PSP to handle. Nevertheless, Sony sold millions of pieces to those who recognized its advanced graphics. In 2006 a slimmer and lighter version of the Nintendo DS, the DS Lite, hit the markets. Sony’s answer to the DS Lite was the PSP Slim and Lite ( PSP 2000) which was launched in 2007. The PSP 2000 was a slimmer and lighter version of the earlier PSP. It was faster, and enabled one to play by connecting it to a TV. Recently, Sony launched its latest gaming console, the PSP 3000. Although, outwardly the PSP 3000 looks similar to the PSP 2000, what can it do that the PSP 2000 cannot? Would the PSP 2000 buyer upgrade to the PSP 3000?
Inspite of the external similarities, the PSP 3000 comes with some extra features. The display is brighter and the contrast ratio is higher. It is also more responsive and has a wider range of colors. It also comes with anti-reflective technology. The video output uses the interlaced format and there is also a microphone that the PSP 2000 lacked. This means that the new PSP will display better brightness and color contrast in a fully lit-up environment.
The PSP 3000 is 6.63 inches wide, 2.81inches high and 0.63 inches thick as compared to the 0.9 inches thickness of the PSP 2000. It weighs about 6.7 ounces. The high glossy surface of the piano black model makes it susceptible to smudging. If you hate smudges, you can go in for the silver model which has a matte surface, although the screen remains glossy.
The front face looks similar to the PSP 2000 with the 4.3″ LCD widescreen with 480 x 272 pixels. Except for a slight difference in the lower row of buttons, every other button is the same. This includes the four navigation buttons on the left, the four characteristic controller-like buttons on the right with cross, triangle, square and circle icons. Then there are the buttons for controlling the volume and brightness with the home and start buttons at the bottom of the display. The microphone is located below the display. As usual the AV cum headphone jack is situated at the bottom side and the USB slot is on the top side.
The UMD is Sony’s self-designed storage media for all its gaming consoles. This special format can store around 1.8 GB of data, be it movies of games. If you buy a bundled version such as the Ratchet and Clank Entertainment bundle, it consists of ‘National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets’ and ‘Size Matters’, which is a move and game UMD respectively. If you just rely on UMDs for movies, you may be disappointed, as finding a movie UMD is a big challenge. Even if you find a few, the choice is limited.
The alternative to this is Sony’s self-designed (again) flash media, the Memory Stick Duo. MS Duo cards come in capacities of 1 GB through 16 GB. These may be included in a bundled version, but you can also buy them separately at a reasonable cost. The MS Duo card enables you to store your favorite movies, photos and music files to be viewed on the PSP.
Apart from playing games and watching movies, you can connect your PSP to your PC and transfer media files, including games. The 3.5 mm headphone connector allows you to use your stereo headphones to listen to your favorite music. You can make Skype to Skype free calls or even make paid Skype calls to your friends’ cell phones. The advantage of having the integrated mic is that you don’t need a headset with a mouthpiece. The PSP 3000 is Wi Fi enabled, so you can browse the web, although it is slow and cluttered. You can also listen to Shoutcast streaming internet radio, but this is a plug-in to the browser.
Out of the many disappointing things about the PSP 3000, one is Sony’s stiffness in using its own storage media such as the UMD and the MS card, which leaves you with very little choice. Also, using the browser is cumbersome, and limiting,
Although the screen’s brightness is perked up, it is reported to take its toll on the 1,200mAh battery time. So, with only a few marginal differences, it cannot be ascertained whether PSP 2000 owners will go in for an upgrade.
The new PSP 3000, that was launched this October, will cost $169 for a standalone piece and comes bundled with UMDs and an MS card for $200. The PSP 3000 has gathered some die-hard fans due to its enhanced graphics and wide choice of games for all age groups, and the Nintendo DS lacks both these features.