PSP Go Review

There’s been a lot of differing opinions about Sony’s new PlayStation Portable model, the PSP Go. With many gamers already owning a PSP in various generation forms, most recently the PSP-3000 with its screen interlacing issues; the general public along with many gaming sites didn’t think the PSP Go was worth the $249.99 price tag that Sony decided to tag on the PSP Go.

The question is, obviously, is the PSP Go worth the price tag?

For me, the answer is yes. My PSP is the PSP-1000, the first generation bought on launch day in March of 2005. The PSP-1000 is the PlayStation Portable model with the underclocked CPU and containing less RAM than the later models. I do enjoy the PSP-1000, when there were games worth playing on it. The UMD was a good idea, but the price tag for movies didn’t meet the sweet spot that could have really propelled the media to the mainstream.

The lack of internal memory also was a bit of a pain in the ass, as the Memory Stick Pro Duo was still a bit expensive at the time, though SanDisk’s models of the MS Pro Duo were a lot cheaper than Sony’s model. That said, the PSP-1000 mainly became a BART companion to watch videos during my commutes. Once those stopped, then I didn’t really need it. So for the past couple years, my PSP had been sitting on my shelf, unused.

My first look at the PSP Go was at E3 2009, though I didn’t get a chance to actually get some hands-on time, as I was running from meeting to meeting. Now with the PSP Go out in retail as of 10/01/09, is it a worthwhile purchase?

Let’s break it down.

I’m not going to breakdown the specs, those have already been published and devoured by many gamers. This is all from my experience and use.

Pros:

Internal Memory

The 16 gigs (14 gig usable) is great. Though I’m not a big fan of Media Go, the program does allow for easy file transfer if you don’t know how to use explorer and where files should be placed. With a lot of developers working on the digital distribution front, having the space to download titles, especially for review is helpful.

I used to use PSPVideo9 for video conversion, and I can’t understand why Sony still only allows specific media types on the PSP while the PlayStation 3 can play along more codecs and file formats. I found a new converter because PSPVideo9 either failed converting files or just plain crashed on me. The new converter is great because it will accept subtitle files and embed them in the videos, something I have been looking for a long time.

Depending on the converter and the quality of video you want, the PSP Go can hold a lot of videos, music, and games. Right now I have 22 videos: music videos, movies with embedded subs, and Pulse. I also added some music to try out SenseMe and have God of War: Chains of Olympus, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, Rock Band: Unplugged, and the Japanese Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker TGS Demo on it. With all that I still have 5.5 gigs of space open.

Size

The size is smaller than the PSP-3000, bigger than a iPod Touch, and smaller than a Nintendo DS. The button layout is perfect for my hands, even the close proximity of the D-pad to the analog stick is great. It feels more solid as a smaller product, the elongated shape of the PSP-1000 was a little more difficult to hold when I need to hit the shoulder buttons.

I played and watch movies for about 3 hours and the PSP Go still felt fine in my hands. The battery also didn’t have many problems.

Screen

I never saw the interlacing issues of the PSP-3000, since I don’t own one. The PSP Go’s smaller screen isn’t a problem, I used to watch videos on my iPod Touch which has a smaller screen. There isn’t any motion blur, ghosting, or other problems during games and movies look just as good or even better than on my laptop.

Converting video from different sources: DVD media, HDTV, SDTV, and Blu-ray all came out fine. The higher quality videos worked well with a 2-pass conversion, shrinking the file sizes a bit. Reading subtitles isn’t a problem, they’re readable and no strain on the eyes.

Audio

Having the speakers on the slider screen and pointed at you is better than having them on the bottom of the portable like the PSP-1000. They’re louder and clearer also. Of course there is a big lack of huge bass, but considering headphones will be used more often, that’s no problem.

Cons

UMD-to-PSP Go gone

I had a feeling that this idea would be too difficult for Sony to really pull off, and also less of a profit margin. Though it would have been nice to put Crisis Core or Tekken: Dark Resurrection on my PSP Go, it’s not too much of a bother. Rather than just dropping the whole idea of UMD support, even having Sony allow gamers to purchase digital copies of games at a cheaper price like $4.99 as opposed to a double dip would be nice.

Accessory Support

I haven’t bought any accessories other than a hardcase for my PSP-1000. For the PSP Go, I got a case and screen protector. The fact that the PSP Go has one all-in-one media connection saves a lot of space on the physical design, but even with the ugly as hell PSP accessory converter, most people would just purchase new cords for television viewing and such.

Personally, I would never hook up my PSP Go to my tv, I have a PlayStation 3 for media like that.

Battery

This isn’t the fact that the battery is smaller and has the same life as the PSP-3000, it’s more of if I attempt to change it myself, I void the product. What’s even funnier is that Sony tells you how to change the battery in the manual.

Wireless

Who the hell still uses wireless-b? If this system was supposed to be all about digital downloads, then using one of the slowest wireless signals was a bad idea. At least going to wireless-g would have made downloading media fall from 45 minutes to 15.

Sony should have woken up about this one. It can’t cost that much to get wireless-b support in bulk.

Conclusion

The PSP Go is good if you’re still running the PSP-1000 or are more interested in digital downloading rather than physical media. As more PSP review copies are becoming digital, it helps me in completing my work, rather than lugging around an UMD case.

As a video player, the PSP Go is better than the iPod Touch or the PSP-3000, with its internal memory, it becomes even easier to just pickup and watch videos. The added M2 memory is still a little expensive in the higher capacities, but the 14 gigs are enough to get you started.

The $249.99 price tag is expensive, I’ll even admit that since I paid retail for mine. Though Sony was not going after the Nintendo DS with this PSP version, they were going after Apple. And think of this, every year Apple releases new versions of their products with new features and huge price tags, but most people don’t complain or flame online because of it.

Why?

Because Apple’s hold on the mainstream consumer electronic product is held by smart design, not features. Even at the latest Apple meeting when they talked about how many titles the Apple Apps Store had, they failed to mention that probably a good 85% of the apps were garbage or copies of each other.

Early adopters (that would be me) are going to pay the price to have this product early. But it looks good, plays well, and will replace the iPod Touch I have, except for music.

These are early opinions of the PSP Go and they may change as time goes on. A big complaint is that the screen protectors are such a pain in the ass to apply as I don’t know how the hell to put one on without at least one air bubble appearing. I have a Invisible Shield for my iPod Touch and may get one for the PSP Go.

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