There was some worry initially that the PSP would only playback ATRAC music files, but I'm pleased to confirm that the PlayStation Portable will happily play MP3 files without the need for any conversion. The sound quality is first rate, especially with a decent set of headphones. Thankfully the remote control is inline, so you can use any headphones you like, while maintaining the remote functionality. If the Value Pack isn't made available in the UK, it's still worth buying the official headphones, just to get the remote. After all, you don't want to be taking the PSP out of your bag every time you want to change the track.
Oh, I almost forgot about the battery. Behind a removable plastic cover at the rear is the battery compartment. The PSP uses an 1800mAh Li-ion battery pack, that's thankfully replaceable. You'll get around three and a half hours' battery life when playing a heavy duty game like Ridge Racers, but obviously you'll get better with a more basic game, or listening to music. Of course, if you're at home, you can simply plug in the power supply and play to your heart's content, but if you are on a long journey and want to play the whole way, you do have the option of carrying multiple batteries with you.
It's not surprising that the battery life is limited, when you consider the size of the screen and the fact that there are two MIPS R4000 processors inside, both running at 333MHz. The PSP is the most powerful handheld gaming console ever built and as such, it draws a fair amount of juice.
The biggest worry with the PSP is damaging it - especially scratching that lovely screen. My Value Pack came with a padded carrying pouch to protect the unit, and this is most definitely a "must have" item. You'd only need to put the PSP in your bag unprotected once in order for that screen to get ruined - something that's been the bane of many an iPod. There are already third party screen protectors available, and I can see myself investing in one of these very soon.
Of course with all of this power, stylish design and generous feature set on offer, the PSP isn't going to be cheap - but ultimately cost must be seen as relative to the product. When the PSP launches in the UK, the basic version will retail for £180, which, in my mind at least, is an absolute steal for such an advanced device. I bought my import unit from Hong Kong-based Internet supplier Lik-Sang, and paid £234, which is a fair price considering the demand and the fact that it's a Value Pack with the extra goodies. I ordered the PSP on a Wednesday and it arrived at my door on the following Monday.
If, like me, you've been trying to lower your expectations of the PSP for fear of disappointment, don't worry. The PSP is an awesome product, and anyone with an interest in gaming, or even just consumer electronics devices needs one in their bag at all times.
Sony has redefined mobile gaming with the PlayStation Portable. I never imagined that the PSP would be this good, and this is one product that has to be seen to be believed. When Sony released the original PlayStation, the balance of power in console gaming shifted away from Nintendo. Now that the PSP is here, I expect to see the same thing happen in the hand-held gaming market.
|More info||The Sony UK site|
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