Product Review: PSPgo

pspgo

A new addition to the PSP family was released this month. Smaller form factor, all digital downloads, and complete new design. How does the new entry compare to previous models and is it really worth the price?

The Playstation Portable (PSP), has not entered into it’s 4th revision and the PSPgo is probably the most drastic of changes to the device. The obvious change at first glance is the  size of the unit, it is significantly smaller than any of its predecessors and the buttons/analog stick(yes, there is still only one) is located under the screen that slides up.  Other changes that have been made is the removal of the standard mini usb port on the device and the volume/brightness has been relocated to the top of the unit.  The memory stick slot is still present but no only accepts the new Memory Stick Micro (M2).Probably the change that has the biggest impact would be the complete removal of the UMD drive. This device is now a completely digital content only device. No more carrying around little UMD discs and the assortment of cases or protectors that go along with them.

Enough with the changes, let’s take a look at the new additions to the device. With the removal of the UMD drive and the push to a all digital content,16GB of  internal storage has added to store your goods. If 16GB is not enough, use of the M2 slot can also be used to store additional personal content other than games like music, pictures etc… Bluetooth connectivity is a welcome feature as you can use it to tether it to a cell phone and use it for an internet connection in the event that you have no access to Wifi, definitely a plus. With the removal of the mini usb connector, a new proprietary multipurpose connector has been added which means that you will need to buy all new cables.This connector also is used to charge it so if you lose the usb data cable/charging cable that comes with it, you won’t have one just lying around and will need to buy a new one. The new cable has a standard usb type A connector that plugs into a very small power brick, further downsizing what you need to carry with you.

Perhaps my favorite feature that has been added to the new PSPgo is the ability to pair a PS3 Six Axis controller to it and use it for playing games. It works flawlessly and is very nice if you’re traveling and have it hooked to the TV in the hotel room or your hands are just too big for the button layout offered on the PSP.  It is also very handy if your playing remote play games from your PS3 while your away.  With a Six Axis being used, you can play games while the screen is in the closed position to sit in a docking station. A very welcome and unexpected feature.  There are only a couple of features in regards to software functions that the other models do not have.  When the screen is slid down a clock is displayed and can be switched to a calendar which I rarely use but it is there  and looks nice. The ability to pause the game  state with the PS button is a very handy feature. You press the PS button and you get the same menu as you would on the previous models with the menu button but you have a ”Quit/Pause” option now. When you select this and then choose “Pause” it saves the current game state and takes you back to the XMB. Under your game menu you will see a “Resume” game icon. When selected it will load the game back up and continue exactly where you paused it from. This is particularly handy for games that only save at certain points and you need to stop playing but hate to lose your progress.

When I first saw the announcement and presentation on the PSPgo, I was a little bit worried about the recessed buttons underneath the screen but after having some hands on time with it at E3, they are placed in a very comfortable position and respond quite well. The triggers being behind the screen take a little getting used to but that is probably due to being used to the old form factor. The only real problem that I have with the new layout would be the placement of the Volume, Display and Mute buttons behind the screen. This isn’t a big deal but does require you to actually tilt the unit to see which button you are pressing and depending on the case may be difficult to get to.  Again, not a huge deal but more of an annoyance to me.

Overall the changes and new features definitely improve upon the PSP but if you already own a PSP 2000 or 3000, there probably isn’t really a reason to justify the $249 price tag.It plays the same as the other versions  and the games look the same , it doesn’t make coffee or anything. It is a bit steep for a handheld unit but if you don’t have one and already have a PS3 or 360 it is a solid unit.

The only serious gripe that I have really isn’t with the PSPgo itself but with the price of the games in the PSN Store which is the only way for you to get games. The price of the digital version of a game is exactly the same price as it would be for a UMD version of the same game. I personally think that it should be a little bit cheaper being that they didn’t need to manufacture a manual, case or even a disc. By offering the same game at a cheaper price for a digital download, more people with the UMD based ones may actually move to buy more games online. Which is obviously the direction that Sony is trying to push the platform.

So unless you don’t mind spending the extra cash,have to have the latest and greatest, or just want a smaller device, my recommendation would be to stick with a 2000 or 3000 unit. I really like and use it a lot more than my previous PSP’s but it is a bit overpriced.

Brian Ellis is a co-founder and senior editor of Bag of Mad Bastards and co-host of Drunken Monkey Tech podcast found here. He can be reached at brian@bagofmadbastards.com if you have questions/comments.

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