Tech Digest plays with a PSP


As you probably know, Sony‘s new
wunderkind is due to be making a long overdue appearance on our shores
on the 1st of September. At Tech Digest, we’ve been lucky enough to get
our hands on one, and we’ve been locked in a dark room foregoing social
contact to bring you this.

The first thing that strikes you after you turn on the PSP is how
bleeding sharp and clear the screen is: a 480 x 272 widescreen display.
Even seeing the menu screen is a wonder in itself. And prepare to
be really wowed when you put in Wipeout or Ridge Racers: while the
models aren’t quite as detailed as their PS2 counterparts, they’re
still pretty good, have pleasingly sharp textures and run at a silky
smooth screen rate. Unfortunately, playing games like this eats up the
battery life pretty damn quick: expect to get four hours or so out of
these games at most.  The PSP comes with an analog stick as well, but it
takes a little getting used to. UMD movies also look fantastic on the
screen. What’s less publicised about the PSP is it’s fantastic
functionality: your PSP comes with a 802.11b wi-fi built in, which
means that when Sony release the firmware, you can browse the web
(although there are also a couple of homebrew browsers out there that
do the job just fine).

If you really want to splash out, then you’ll be tempted to
get a pro duo memory stick for your PSP. Although they’re too expensive
to load a movie collection on in the same way you could with a hard drive
based media player, it means that you can load up a few Simpsons
episodes for that long train journey. Be warned, the procedure for
getting movies to run on your PSP is far more complicated then it
should be: but you should be glad to know that 3GP Convertor lets you
do it for free. Which is nice.

So, should you sell your soul to Sony, dump your DS and get a PSP? Well, don’t
expect the same imagination in the games. But the graphics have a
definite wow factor, and the extra features, especially the web
browser, are pretty cool. However, it looks like Sony is pulling
another PS2 trick in Europe and not shipping enough PSPs in an attempt
to get demand high. Getting hold of one of these on release day might
be difficult. Also, get a screen protector. The screen scratches
irritatingly easily.

For more gaming news, see the fantastic Games Digest.

Chris Cornwell
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