Random Old Gadget Review: The Humble PSP Phat
Here’s a little piece of technology that’s been surprising me ever since I bought it. It’s had its ups and downs of usage with me over the 5 years that I’ve owned it so far so I thought I’d give it some recognition (No I’m not replacing or selling it right now by the way).
First, I’d like to point out the main uses I have for this device:
1. Playing games of course
2. Media player (Video and Music)
As you can see, I don’t quite utilise all of its capabilities but there are pretty good reasons for this. Web browsing on a psp phat is a novelty – the wireless B card is so slow that it’s really not worth the trouble of setting up your network settings despite the usability of the inbuilt web browser. Viewing photos is a cumbersome venture – Why share photos on your psp when it’s so much more convenient to do so on your camera or computer?
However, that’s where the negatives end (for me anyways). First of all, the design of the PSP is pure symmetrical genius. When you pick it up, your hands naturally hover over the buttons and it doesn’t take several days to get oriented to the interface (AHEM xbox that’s you). The device is gorgeous to look at and the greatest plus is that bulletproof (relative to any other large screened device) case. It’s probably the most unscratchable device I’ve ever owned and while my 2 year old ipod’s sides are hideously scratched up, the 5 year old psp’s faceplate still shines unblemished when I wipe the dust and oil off it. This thing lasts.
In terms of games, the selection available on the psp just so happens to cater to what I’m interested in: RPGs and Gundam. The graphics aren’t state of the art anymore but they’re decent enough so you don’t feel like you’re looking at polygons (DS anyone?). I quite enjoyed the various square enix titles and bandai’s gundam vs gundam. However, I’m sure the PSP is gonna be replaced pretty soon by a PSP2 or something since sony needs to keep up with the competition so games are on a decline.
Music and Video are what really shines on this device! Although the PSP’s screen resolution of 480×270 isn’t in any way spectacular anymore with the advent of phones that have 800×480 screens, it’s decent enough to watch anime, tv shows and movies without feeling like you’re looking at a bunch of coloured squares (lulz video on ipod nano). There are a bunch of hoops you’d need to jump through to get good video going on the psp though and it’s unlikely that most of the general public have been able to take advantage of the full resolution of the psp’s screen like I have. Regarding watching videos, what sets the psp apart from other portable media devices such as the ipod touch is that there is virtually no lag even with the craziest compression algorithm you decide to throw at it. Big limitation however – you need to re-encode your videos to a container that the psp will accept. As an mp3 player, it’s as straightforward as it gets. Put mp3s into the MUSIC folder and they’ll appear in the psp’s music folder. No need to install bloatware (itunes) or go through unreasonable wait times (itunes again) and you can copy your files back and forth as you like. The shining standout and the sole reason I continue to use my psp for music and video over my ipod touch is the phenomenal battery life. The psp was designed to work at full throttle all the time while playing games so the “4 hours battery life” that people talk about regarding the psp is “play time”. What no one tells you is that video playing time is actually closer to 8hrs and music playing time is about 20hrs! This is perfect for long drives through the country and even longer flights from country to country, something the over-advertised ipod wouldn’t dare claim to do.
Yes, there’s no camera, there’s no 3g, it doesn’t have a touch screen, and no you can’t download apps and fire angry chickens at people (or CAN you?) but the PSP is frigging SIX YEARS OLD technology. Sure it’s bulky compared to a fancy brand new ipod but there’s something about having a tactile button and not having to worry about the battery life that lets it continue to be a very useful portable media player and gaming device.