Hanging, since 2004..
PSP Slim and Lite
Usually before buying any gadget I have a habit of going through several sites tutorials/FAQ’s to know more about the product, similarly for PSP my ‘know more’ activity was going on in background since last 1 month. I posted my queries on several sites/forums including our very own ‘thinkdigit’ forum and got answers for many of them. We will go through FAQ about PSP (Playstation Portable) further in this article.
So, let’s start with the details and specifications of the new PSP slim and lite model and some major differences with respect to the old PSP-1000 ‘phat’ model.
It’s a no-brainer that if you are planning to buy a PSP you should go ahead with the slim model. Being lighter in weight the new PSP slim also has more memory;changes in loading time due to more memory are apparently insignificant. According to various sites, some games perform slightly better and some even slightly worse, PSP Slim outperforms PSP in loading time in the matter of just a few seconds. Even though the slim model has 1200mAh battery it lasts as long as the 1800mAh one for the phat. One other good change is that the speakers now are placed in the front side instead of the backside as in previous models.
We can see that PSP supports most popular audio formats including WMA which is great because most of the portable music players available in the market only support MP3, but WMA has emerged as a popular codec format in last few years and deserves to be supported on every music player. Various popular image formats are also supported; you can directly put your MS Pro Duo from your Sony digicam to your PSP to view photographs on screen. Several freely available applications like ‘PSP video9’ etc help you convert videos to the desired PSP supported video format.
PSP acts as a music player, video player / picture viewer and most important as a handheld gaming device (this is what it is all about). Let’s see how it scores on all these different fronts.
The XrossMediaBar (XMB - Menu):
XMB provides a simple user friendly way to navigate through the PSP contents ie. themes, wallpapers, music, games,videos etc. The default image viewer is simple and provides slideshow mode other than the basic manual browsing through images, provides zoom-in and zoom-out and any image can be set as wallpaper on your PSP. The biggest problem (idiotic one) with file management is that you can not browse in to nested folders, PSP wont recognize folders below one level (although you can use PSPfiler plugin to address this flaw to some extent).
Browsin through wallpaper thumbnails (theme In a flow)
Two basic themes will be provided by default for PSP named ‘original’ and ‘cookies’. Original theme is what all of us must have seen and it’s the simplest and best. Other themes can be downloaded in ‘ptf’ or ‘ctf’ format. CTF themes change the look and feel of your PSP entirely, while the PTF themes are just a set of new icons/wallpapers CTF are a whole new level, CTF themes can be applied safely by using the CXMB plugin. The screenshot below shows the Alienware theme.
Alienware theme (Color choose screen)
If you are using firmware 3.9 or above you can use the ‘Skype’ and the ‘Go messenger’ application from XMB. Recent 4.0 update also adds Google search through the XMB.
Music player :
On the journey back from Mumbai to my city, I had no games to play on PSP, so I enjoyed music for about four hours with my EP-630 earphones plugged in. PSP outputs above average sound quality and is real pleasure to listen to. In these 4 hours only 43% of the battery was drained. There are four modes of audio presets which PSP offers which you can set only when headphone/speakers/etc is connected to your PSP headphone jack. You can enable graphic visualizers to go with music on PSP.
Browsing through Music library
Default graphic visualizer (with menu overlay)
AlienWare version of the default equalizer
Available visualizers, 4.05 FW adds more.
The audio quality offered is equal to what an ipod offers but the volume level of PSP is limited. Those who like to listen to music with volume turned up to the highest mark will be slightly disappointed. There is way to increase the volume limit of PSP but the default max volume level is enough for me so I haven’t tried increasing it yet. Last thing to say about audio is that the PSP speakers are horrible, you would never want to listen to music on the provided speakers.
Video player :
Who ever gets a chance to see this gadget first says “I don’t believe you can enjoy watching video on this screen”, the very next thing you should do is to play a video file and hand your PSP to that person an wait for the compliment : “It’s amazing”. It happened with me; everyone returned it to me only after watching long scenes from the movie ‘300’.
Prison Break on PSP (Get a PB Season DVD and convert )
PSP is not a replacement for your television/monitor but it excel’s as a PMP, the hi-res large screen serves its purpose of outputting high quality video. Fast forward, reverse and options like scene selection make the video player complete with essential features. With the slim you can also watch your PSP content on big screen by connecting it through provided Video output connector. Watching movies on a long journey? hell lot of fun J !!
Gaming Device :
Yes, 'the' most important and primary reason to own this gadget. PSP is the most powerful handheld gaming device till date with wide range of games available. PSP first suffered from PS1/PS2 ports, developers were releasing ports of their playstation console games which made consumers loose interest in the system, but the scene has entirely changed now. PSP now has a huge array of exclusives including God Of War- Chains Of Olympus, wipeout pulse/pure, FF crisis core, Patapon, Loco roco, etc.
Savegames (Theme: In a Flow)
I started of with downloading and playing demos on PSP, demos are available on the PSP store. You can browse the store through PSP browser with wi-fi turned on. I downloaded demos through the PC store for PSP which was recently launched by Sony. Many other sites also do offer demos of various games. The graphics quality was beyond what I expected. Playing Ridge Racer and Vice city stories made me remember old PS1 and PS2 days. Other games I tried were Tennis and WWE Smackdown v/s Raw 2008. WWE looks impressive, all menus and modes present in the PS3 version of the game are present here. The game can be a good time-pass if played in multiplayer, but its hard to find a PSP gamer around to play on Ad-Hoc mode. I haven’t got a chance to explore wireless ability of PSP. I was not able to configure it properly, got some DNS error last time.
Patapon and WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2008
Before PSP I used to play games on my friends N81( yes n-gage! ), but N81 is not a gaming gadget (not considering the graphics) and to qualify as a gaming handheld the device has to have proper control buttons which a PSP provides, the D-pad and analog stick are really comfortable and ‘ox∆□’ buttons are equally responsive. Although you will miss the L2 and R2 buttons while playing PS1 eboots. If you are using CFW (Custom Firmware) you can enjoy playing classic Nintendo/Sega games through emulators.
UMD of various games are available for official price of 999/- INR, price depends on the discount the shop is providing. Offering movies in UMD’s has gone flop for Sony, you will rarely come across movie UMD’s in any shop.
Phew, I have written too much J, its not ‘all’ about PSP but this is what I have experienced so far with the handheld. Below are some points to remember before you go and get PSP (suggestions / corrections are welcome)
1 .CFW enables you to use wide range of free homebrew applications.
2 .Installing CFW violates warranty of your PSP.
3 .CFW can be installed after downgrading your PSP, in order to do this you will need a ‘Pandora Battery’.
4 .Go for only original memory sticks, fake ones give you all sorts of read/write errors. Spending few more bucks will ensure peace of mind.
One easy way to check that you have original memory stick is to put it in PSP -> switch on your PSP -> Photo -> Memory stick -> Hit the ‘triangle’ button on PSP ->Select information . Under MagicGate if ‘unknown’ is written then the memory stick is probably fake. You will get the memory stick with MagicGate printed on it and if you see ‘unknown’ written on it then it’s obviously fake.
5 .Get good quality headphones/earphones, PSP speakers won’t do the job satisfactorily. I suggest creative EP-630 or above.
6 .You can play PS1 games (eboots) on PSP.
7 .Get a cover for the slim, you don’t want it get scratched while putting in or taking out of your pocket. Get a screen guard too, really necessary. PSP is a finger print magnet.
8 .If you are getting it modded, make him do it in front of your eyes, check if the PSP still contains the original battery if the box was already open.
Currently I am just enjoying the default setup of PSP, but soon I will check the various plug-ins / applications available for PSP. Next time when I post, it will be regarding the homebrew games and apps. Screenshot capturer, file manager etc are some of the most useful apps I have heard about. I wanted to include screenshots of some games and apps with this review, but didn’t get chance to try it, will post some images soon if possible.
Okay, did some new things. Now not on the default bundled setup. Upgraded the firmware from 3.71 to 3.90 M33-3 and now using some plugins.
Change the look and feel of your XMB by using CTF themes after installing and enabling this plugin, it’s a must have.
Very useful plugin (saves battery charge), turn on the Hold switch to automatically disable the display and underclock the CPU (61 MHz). Turn off the Hold switch to return the CPU to normal speed and enable the display.
If you hold the UP d-pad button when turning off the hold switch, the display will remain switched off and the CPU will remain underclocked, but you can operate the PSP. This is useful if you just need to adjust the volume, fast forward/rewind, or to skip to the next song, without unnecessarily turning on the display. To return to normal, just press the Screen button. This plugin also fixes the irritating issue of accidently putting your PSP in stand-by mode while pushing the hold button up to release the PSP from keypad lock mode.
Screenshot plugin :
Allows you to take screenshots for the XMB and your favorite PSP games, hit the music button to take a screenshot. Also makes gif's of series of screenshot, but its not that useful. Some images in this review were taken by the screenshot plugin for 3.90
It's been more than a month since I got this gadget and I am enjoying every feature of it. Last Friday I went to Mumbai again and on my way I saw two movies on it 'Goal 2' and 'American Gangster' and enjoyed them a lot while everyone else in the bus was stuck with some movie 'Don No.1'(wth !!,hehe ) shown on video . Summing it up, If you are a gamer and like gaming on move then PSP is for you and apart from gaming it’s the best portable entertainment gadget within the price range of 9k . I will be upgrading the firmware soon and will try out 'IRshell for PSP'. When I do that I will post about it too, till then if anybody has any suggestions about installing homebrew on PSP please post them in forum.