Sony had first announced about its portable PSP handheld console in the year 2003 at E3, which first arrived the stores of UK in the year 2005. The PSP Go is the latest device of Sony in the family of portable handhelds that has seen three different models since it was originally launched in the year 2005. This model has dropped the hugely unpopular Universal Media Disc format in favour of the digital downloads via Sony’s online store.
A bold effort:
This PSP is a massive initiative by Sony to capitalise over its massive popularity of Sony PS2 in order to move across its new market, which is pretty much owned by its very strong rival company in the gaming market, the Nintendo. Though Nintendo is said to be having the edge with its dual touch screen at a lower cost, over Sony’s costlier console with a better specification, Sony has still managed to attract a significant amount of market with its much faster, sleeker and good looking PSP.
What is new on the Go:
So, if you ask us what is new in the device? It is not radically new to the PSP trade. Apart from being much smaller than the other 3 previous gens of the compact gaming, it features some additions like slide out controls, built-in Bluetooth and the radical change being completely digital, completely deserting the cartridges and optical discs.
PSP though a makeover:
The list of features of the PSP Go Console is very less, but the device has gone though a complete makeover. The main focus of the make-over has been on removing some fat and shedding some weight. Sony PSP Go is available in black and white colours; you can expect some colourful models in the future though. Sony has maintained the glossy finishing of the device that attracts scratches and fingerprints as in the case of all the previous models. However, the surfaces surrounding the D-pad and the other controls have been given matte finishing.
Display and Dimensions:
Another thing that you will notice after the very obvious decrease in the width of PSP Go is the fact that its 3.8” display is slightly smaller than the PSP 3000′s 4.3″ display. The resolution has been maintained to be the same its widescreen aspect ratio and 480 x 272 pixels too. Though the screen now has a smaller surface area with less viewing space, since the resolution is in-tact, the graphics look much sharper. The screen is not having the interlacing issue that its predecessor suffered with. The colours, Screen and Brightness have been improvised a lot too.
These design changes are paying off in the dimensions of the device which measures just 2.75” tall, 5” wide, and just above ½ inch thick. Especially, when the device is kept close, the minimalistic deign is very appealing.
Into the Pocket-Friendly club:
One of the most evident problem that both the previous models of the PSP and all the various iterations of the Nintendo DS in the last five years was that, though they had the term pocket friendly in their name tag, they were truly not “Pocket” friendly, unless you are wearing cargo pants with a deep O pocket styling. And we have said this because, the latest PSP Go has come in as a exception by being truly pocket friendly, by sliding easily into your jean pockets without showing off too much of a bulge. But we are not promising any gamer who is a fan of the latest trend of “Skinny Jeans”, as you will not be succeeding shoehorning the PSP Go or any other device for that matter, into your pockets.
You will find that the controls are hidden in a slider that pulls from underneath the screen whenever you intend to start playing or watching a video. With the much improved display, the controls that are hidden away are surely a design win. It has 2 circular rubber pads that allow you to gripe the device well. The overall finger and thumb control over the device is far better when compared with the Nintendo DSi.
Gripes with the arrangement and size of the controls:
Yet, we will have to point out some of the black spots in the arrangement of the controls specially, their in-game performance. Clearly, the issues caused are only because of miniaturising them and awkward positioning. The analog stick has been placed to the right of the D pad that makes you feel off-centred. While put into real action, we will not aid noticing that the new placing felt way too awkward. Though the new PSP users will not find it a big issue, the other PSP veterans will certainly not appreciate the difference. The analog stick offered is smaller than that found on its predecessors, but it gives you a feeling that it is much more sturdy and durable. You can also feel that there is a lot of friction while moving around; they are not much looser as in 3000.
Placement of the controls:
Most of the time, the buttons exhibited no issues, they had solid operations assigned to them like the ones in the Nintendo DSi. The L and R buttons are more prominent, which will be preferred by most of the gamers instead of the shoulder buttons that adorned the earlier versions of the PSP. The start and select buttons have been placed too close to each other and they also do not have the same tactile feedback as the other buttons are having. There has been some rearrangement with the sound, volume and display buttons too; they can now be found between the L and R shoulder controls. They work alright, but the issue is that you have to look at their place when the display is slid up to make use of it. Fortunately, the remaining controls have been left where they had been previously. While the power switch still sits on the lower right, the wireless switch sits on the lower left side of the console, right below the M2 micro card slot, about which we will discuss below.
As we had mentioned in the intro, Sony has replaced the UMD media slot with a internal storage unit. Likewise, a mini M2 Micro Memory card slot has taken the place of the proprietary Memory Stick Pro Duo.
As in the case of its predecessor, the PSP Go Video Game Console too has a built-in microphone for applications like Skype and also for making calls via the WiFi. You will find the microphone between analog stick and the Start and Select buttons. By investing on some additional cables, you can hook-up the PSP Go to a TV and you can also buy either a composite or component cable for displaying videos and games.
Absent features of PSP GO:
There are a couple of things that you will not locate on the PSP Go; a touchscreen and a 2nd analog stick. While the former would make some of the first person shooting games easy and fun, the latter is expected simply because the feature is available in its rival gaming console, the DSi. With a touchscreen interface, you would have also enjoyed the advantages of an on screen keyboard for on-screen data entry and surfing.
Efforts paid off:
The whole device stands as a treat showing off the efforts of the design engineers of Sony who have impressively managed to reduce the size and weight of the console. Yet, we have a few grips with the miniaturisation efforts of Sony. First of all, it is disappointing that there is simply no way that you will be able to remove the battery, so you will have to be a really stingy player for about four hours as long as you are away from a plug point. Though it is not too bad for daily use, this will prove to be a killer blow if you are on a long flight journey or something equivalent.
Disappointment for the big hands:
If you are a gamer with big hands, forget it! The Sony PSP Go is not the console for you. They have squeezed the D pad and the analogue nub into a very small real estate that will be a deal breaker for you. If you are having big hands, it is better that you at least get a demo for about half an hour, playing with any of your friend’s device or that of your dealer, before you even think of swiping your card.
WiFi with no upgrades:
Wi-Fi is back, but then unfortunately looks like Sony decided against any upgrades for it. So, guess any kind of connection is going to work, provided it is just the basic 802.11b category and nothing can lend you a helping hand if the encryption is set to anything other than WEP or WPA1.
What can be told of the web browser – only that it is awfully slow, especially with viewing fat websites. Talk about Flash playback, it appallingly cumbersome!.
Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity:
Sony has added Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity in its PSP GO handheld Console, which is a very good addition as it makes all the wireless tasks feasible and extremely easy. With this feature, you can connect to wireless headsets, but we had experienced some difficulties in getting a stereo headset in good working condition, connected to the device. One very fine advantage of the Bluetooth feature is that you will be able to control the PSP via a PS3 controller. But for this to work; you have to connect both the devices and the controller to a PS3 simultaneously with the help of USB cables.
A better media:
Since the UMD slot has been removed, accessing of all the multimedia and gaming has to be done via the 16GB of internal storage or with the M2 memory stick. With the help of the built-in WiFi, you will be able to download software from the Sony PlayStation store directly to their PSP Go, or even transfer data from the PC or PS3 via a USB. You can expect Sony to sell some big budget downloadable games, which will also be available in the UMD media and for such titles; it will be a wiser to transfer data directly from your PC or PlayStation 3 with the help of USB instead of using the WiFi connection on your PSP. For instance, downloading the MotorStrom of 520MB takes over two hours to finish from the GO and just 20 minutes via the PC.
Apart from gaming, you can have fun with the multimedia capabilities of the PSP Go that includes playback of videos, digital music and photos. As we mentioned earlier, it also has a rudimentary web browser and a dedicated Internet Radio player.
The PSP Go operates on an OS that is slightly different from that of its predecessors; Software version 5.70. There is very little difference between them and this will be mostly because of the fact that the slider has an effect on the behaviour of the device. For instance, while the display of the system is closed, the device gets into a screensaver mode that displays an analog clock and date. When the device is slid open again, you will be taken to the XMB menu. These specific behaviours of the device can be customised, for instance, you can set the device to go into sleep instead of the clock display.
One other improvement that has been made to the firmware of the PSP GO is that, you have an option to pause a game and return to the cross media bar. And while playing, just by hitting over the PlayStation logo button in the bottom left corner of the screen, the home menu will come up and by hitting over the Pause Game button, freeze the game and return to it later by clicking over the “Resume Game” button under the game icon in the XMB. Though it takes about 10 seconds to pause a game, this feature is very useful.
Games seal the deal:
Fashion factors aside, you must be asking us what is the great deal with the £225 price tag for this new kit, and you may even argue with us saying that you might as well buy a new PS3 slim for that kind of a tag. So, here is the deal why you must go for this UMD free toddler. Sony has decided to enlarge the online offering that are available to more than two hundred and twenty five games, 2300 movies and more than 13,000 TV episodes and the new game titles include the most anticipated titles and brand new ones. You will be able to put some serious time in on your commutes to work this Christmas with the new Gran Turismo, Motostrom: Artic Edge or Fifa 10, really tempting, is it not? Some of the other noteworthy PSP titles include Pixel Junk Monsters Deluxe, Tiger Woods PGA tour 10, Soulcaliber: Broken Destiny, Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite, Madden NFL 10, God of War: Chain of Olympus, Star Wars: Beaterator, Battlefront II, Field runners, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas and Tetris.
The PlayStation store:
In order to taste the same kind of success that Apple tasted with the micro transaction based download method with the iPhone and iPod Touch, Sony is trying very hard in order to add similar elements of informal gaming to the PlayStation store. As an initiative in this attempt, Sony has included the PSP Minis which is the latest bite sized casual gaming that will be offered exclusively in the PlayStation Store. The best part about these games is that they are not exclusive to PSP GO; they can be downloaded by any of the PlayStation users, it is just that they are released at the same time as the GO. You can buy them either by load up with the PlayStation Store Credits or even by buying the prepaid cards at the retailers that have a exclusive unlock code. We found that these games cost a wee little more than the usual costs paid at the App stores.
Not very intuitive:
The PlayStation is not an intuitive online applications store. There are no screen shots offers for the games and they are also not organised in a logical manner. Yet another issue with the downloading is that, once you start downloading, you will not be able to use the GO for any other stuff awaiting the download gets over.
The PlayStation network:
If you are having games and content across a number of Sony devices, you can link them all into your online PlayStation Network account in order to make sure that you can view or play whatever you have purchased. This is in fact quite useful and with this technology available, you will be able to share content with up to 5 Sony devices. They can be bought just once and you can make use of them in any of PSPs or PS3 at no additional charge.
This is just one reason why you might want to go for the PSP Go, you can download games, demos, movies and trailers from Sony’s online store quite easily and the whole process is pretty straightforward. But if you are possessing a stack of the older UMD games, that are not available on the PS store, then you will be a little displeased. And we are sure that no one will be really interested in two PSP versions with them.
Though there are a few speculations that there is an advanced chipset employed in the PSP GO that aids in a better performance, we virtually found that there is not much difference with this model and its predecessor.
Sony has included a Media Go Software in the package that allows you to convert most of the videos for playback on the PSP Go and also rip audio CDs to the device. The software functions between the PC and PSP Go, the same way as iTunes and iPod.
Battery and battery life of PSP GO:
As in the case of its iPhone companion, the PSP GO is also bad in battery life. In addition to this the fact that it is not user replaceable is letting us down. This has been deliberately done by Sony in order to combat piracy, as we know that the earlier PSP models have been demoralized through traditional battery packs like Pandora’s Battery. The battery life is same as that you must have found in the PSP 2000 and PSP 3000. Sony claims that you will get about three to six hrs of gaming period. The ability to manually check the battery life in the PSP has been removed, hope to get back the feature in the next firmware upgrade.
Inside the box:
The accessories supplied with the console include an AC adaptor, Media GO software, a USB chord and an instruction manual. As in the case of the previous PSPs, Sony has not offered a standard mini USB port and in its place, all has to be connected with the help of a proprietary port. This includes AC adaptor, the USB cord and the afore-mentioned PSP Go cable accessories that you can view the titles and videos on the telly.
Sony offers its latest PSP GO one year limited warranty for parts and labour.
The new Sony PSP Go has been designed beautifully for the “On the go” gamers. It certainly has the wow factor that you would like your mates to be impressed with the new and innovative technology. It is a great device, but we feel that it is over-priced. The value of it can be determined only by the kind of games and videos Sony offers for the device online. With the PSP3000 available at a much lower cost, it is hard for us to recommend Go to the people; the console also has little games that it can play now.
You can go forward and get the device playing for you, if you have no issues with the staggering price tag.
Sony PSP GO Game Console (Black, White) – Specification Details
|Model Name||PSP GO|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||2.7” x 5” x 0.7”|
|Display Type||3.8 in TFT active matrix LCD display|
|Display Colour Support||16.7 million colours|
|Available Enclosure Colours||Black and White|
|Included Games||Gran Turismo, Motostrom: Artic Edge or Fifa 10 and lots more|
|Media Type||16GB internal storage unit
M2 micro memory card
|Significant Features||Slider screen
|Processor Type||333 MHz|
|Sound output mode||Stereo|
|Connectivity Features||Headphones , USB , Composite video output|
|Input Device Type||Game pad – Integrated|
|Total Expansion Slots(Free)||1 Memory Stick Micro (M2)|
|Battery||Rechargeable – Lithium ion|
|Battery life||3 to 6 hours|
|Package contents||Sony PSP Go, AC adaptor, a USB chord,
Media GO software and an instruction manual
|Manufacture Warranty||One year limited warranty|