Sony PSP Review

I’ve been waiting to write this review for quite some time. I wanted to really play with my PSP before I sat down and wrote up a review for all three people who read this blog on a regular basis. If you’re in a hurry the short review is that the PSP kicks ass, but leaves you wanting more.

The first thing you notice about the Sony PSP is that they seriously tried to put the kitchen sink in this thing. In fact, I think they did manage to get a water fountain in there. The unit comes with an amazing LCD capable of doing 480 x 272 resolution, WiFi, IrDA, Memory Stick DUO and a UMD reader. The UMD format holds about 1.8GB of data and is cable of storing music, videos and games on it (sometimes all on the same disk).

The good stuff …

  1. The graphics and controls are great. There’s even an analog joystick that’s simply amazing.
  2. The built in WiFi simply works and it works well. It does fast scanning and even tells you if the access points are open or not.
  3. The new 2.0 firmware, which despite being “Japanese only” can be installed easily from the internet, comes with a Mozilla based browser. To put it simply, the browser kicks ass. It renders sites amazingly and the UI is top notch. I barely miss my keyboard doing simple browsing.
  4. The 2.0 firmware supports a wide range of codecs and image formats, including Apple’s AAC format, MPEG-4 video, etc.

The bad stuff …

  1. The LCD’s apparently have dead pixel problems. The one I bought didn’t have any dead pixels per se, but does have some “fussy pixels” that come and go. I’d recommend the Best Buy service plan, which will replace the unit after 8 dead pixels, while the Sony warranty won’t replace the until there are 38 dead pixels.
  2. Unless you’re lucky enough to get the 1.5 firmware (not 1.51 or 1.52), you won’t be doing any homebrew stuff on your PSP. I was really hoping to get install MAME, but until they crack the 2.0 firmware I’m out of luck.
  3. I want something that makes it simple to put video onto the PSP. There are a few programs, but the process for ripping a DVD and putting it onto a PSP is tedious at best. If I own the DVD I shouldn’t have to to purchase a special PSP movie to watch it on my PSP. It’s so shitty that I’d rather buy the UMD than tinker with ripping the DVD and converting it.

If Sony was smart they would …

  1. Add a VoIP client. It has WiFi and an interface port next to the headphone jack. They could easily add the ability to use a headset. I would pay for a soft phone for this thing in a second.
  2. Add chat software and/or voice-to-text software. They should release a headset and allow me to talk into the headset for chat over the internet (ie. iChat) or create voice-to-text software.
  3. Start selling and external hard drive or add a USB driver so I can plug in any USB hard drive and watch video, view images, etc.
  4. Sell a UMD writer and blank UMD disks.
  5. Sell and SDK and allow developers to start creating and selling homebrew games and applications.
  6. Create PIM/Calendar/Email/RSS clients for the PSP. I can’t stress this enough. I want a simple PIM/Calendar app for my contacts and calendar, iCal/Address Book integration, a simple IMAP/POP email client and an RSS aggregator. The aforementioned SDK would clear these needs up in less than a month I bet.
  7. The browser needs flash support so web developers can create flash games specially formatted for the PSP.

The short of it is that the Sony PSP is an AMAZING platform. If someone created one of these and opened up the platform with an SDK every kid on the planet would want one. What I’d recommend is creating an online store that would allow independent developers to upload and digitally sign their applications. They would then sell them through the store with a cut going to Sony. This would allow independent developers to create games, while keeping the platform closed and reducing the ability for people to copy video games. I could be sitting at a cafe and someone with a PSP could walk in. In order to play against him (or her) I’d need a copy of the game. No big deal, just go to the PSP store and download the game before playing.

I love the PSP and I’m quite addicted to Need for Speed Rivals, but I really hope and wish Sony will listen to the tremendous demand for an SDK and find a way to coexist with the independent developer community.

4 thoughts on “Sony PSP Review

  1. Years ago when I was working at CollabNet, we had a client called Indrema that was trying to build a Linux-based gaming console that used an open source software development model. THe concept was brilliant but they ran out of money too fast and went out of business.

    I would love to see one of the big game console makers embrace open source.

  2. Cam,

    Actually, Sony released an SDK for their PSP that was based on Linux. I believe the SDK was actually a live Linux CD of sorts for the PSP, but I could be wrong. Either way, Sony has a track record (though spotty) of doing such things.

  3. Have to say Joe that your wrong too. There was only a Linux SDK released for the PS2 and there isn’t a PSP SDK around except for someone i know that has been lucky enough to long term borrow the official PSP SDK. FYI if you want the PSP SDK then you’ll have to buy it from sony for $125,000 but you might not be accepted (they review you and decide if your worthy of having it) or my m8 is actually thinking of selling copies of the SDK for about $40,000.

  4. I have also read the news about sony psp that :-
    The update and related details have yet to appear on Sony’s website, which still lists version 3.52 as the latest one, but the new firmware can be obtained via the network update feature on the PSP. According to PSP Fanboy, the new additions of 3.70 include:

    * You can now set custom themes in [Theme Settings] under [Settings].
    * Support has been added for assigning buttons in [Remote Play].
    * A scene search feature has been added under [Video].
    * Sequential playback is now supported under [Video].
    * Simultaneous playback of content under [Music] and [Photo] is now supported.

    The update will work with both the original PSP hardware and the newer PSP-2000, though options that take advantage of the new model – such as UMD cache and USB charge – are disabled for the original unit.

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