Four years ago I got married to the most wonderful woman in the world. The evening before the wedding she knocked on my hotel room door and handed me a surprise wrapped package. It was the original PSP.
Believe it or not, the PSP was a meaningful gift that brings earnest tears to my eyes just recollecting the scenario. It wasn’t just that I’d been obsessing about the PSP since its announcement — what seemed like (and sort of was) the ultimate do-everything media gadget of its day. The PSP was a token of her tacit acceptance of who I was. She knew that while I’d grow old with her, I’d probably never surpass mental adolescence. And that was OK.
So for better or worse, I’ll always feel attached to the PSP brand in this strangely emotional way. And realise that, as the PSPGo solidifies the Sony’s growing embarrassment in the industry, it breaks my heart a lot more than yours.
$US250 on October 1.
After playing with the PSPGo for a week, I’ve adjusted to the small form. It slides open with a smooth but fulfilling snap, and it’s very light and balanced in your hands.
Despite the chrome detailing, know that the edging and body are constructed of what’s not the most sturdy-feeling plastic, but only time will tell how well the Go holds up to daily abuse. As Adam Frucci said, “it doesn’t quite feel cheap, but it doesn’t feel expensive either.” If you could say one thing about the original PSP, it was that it felt expensive.
But it’s more than just quality making this impression. When you hold a Zune HD, the thing seems to be carved from the future itself. When you hold the PSPGo, it feels like a cheap tween’s phone.
The screen has vibrant colour reproduction, and a perfect level of max brightness (until you take it in direct sunlight, where it becomes unusable). Its black levels ever so slightly best those of my aging iPhone 3G, but the resolution, 480×272 stretched .3 inches beyond the iPhone’s 480×320, means that text often appears more pixelated than you’re used to seeing it, and otherwise gorgeous movie playback is often flawed with jagged pixels.
So closed, the PSPGo can’t really be navigated. Scratch that. You can accidentally hit LB to restart your movie—a function you’ll use frequently—if by accident.
Looking at the design, a conspiracy theory pops in my head. The PSPGo was the template for the PSP2. Open, it had dual analogues. Closed, it had a touchscreen. Somewhere inside, it had a faster processor, more RAM and, hell, maybe even 3G or something. Maybe it was machined of metal and could be thrown like a ninja star. Regardless of this theory’s truth, we’re stuck with the Go as-is.
Note: PSP shots are of original (PSP-1000) model.
Honestly, the hardware is only half of what holds the PSPGo back from being something better. It’s the aging PSP software full of unfixed nagging points, like that Wi-Fi doesn’t connect automatically upon startup, typing is still done through that horrible phone-dial-like interface and lack of support for background downloading from the PS Store.
Yes, while the PS3 allows you to download games and movies while performing other tasks, the PSPGo is stuck monotasking during downloads. Oh, and if your PSP dies before you’ve finished that 1.6GB movie download—which takes a while over the Go’s slow 802.1b Wi-Fi—you get to start all over. (Also, while it’s nice of Sony to keep compression levels low, SD quality movies on portables need smaller files sizes than this for people to watch movies on the go.)
PSP Minis, or tiny apps like you see on the iPhone (in some cases, exactly like you see on the iPhone), are on their way. But the limitations are strict, meaning that even the games ported from the iPhone could be missing functions like networking. And how big or wonderful will the catalogue be if Sony can barely recruit studios to develop for the PSP as it is now? (Sony has catalogue of 225 PSPGo games that will be downloadable over PC or Wi-fi at launch.)
In a mixture of movie playback, gaming and general interface navigation, the PSPGo ran for four hours and 47 minutes at max brightness with Wi-Fi on. That’s about the same battery life of the last few PSPs. Unfortunately, those who liked to use an extended or extra battery with the PSP will find that more difficult on the Go as its battery is positioned inside the screw-off case.
PSPGoes Nowhere New
Oh, and needless to say, there’s still no second analogue stick.
Four years later, my wife and I are closer than ever. But my beloved PSP sits on a shelf somewhere I don’t play it, a dusty artefact that I’ll neither play nor throw away. The Go will not fare any better by being a little bit smaller or ditching pesky UMDs. PSP2, I’ll be waiting for whenever you decide to show up and steal my heart again.