Should I take a Ride on the Sony Pony?
August 9, 2006 7:12 PM   Subscribe

PSP: Buy or no buy?

Should I buy a PSP?

I envisage I'll use it mostly for watching downloaded TV shows, and converted DVDs, etc, on the train to and from work. Is the screen suitable? Does it sound okay (using headphones, I assume)?

That said, I wouldn't rule out playing games, which leads me to my next question; is there a wide array of top quality games? For a while I remember hearing there was a dearth of titles, but that may have changed.

Would the battery last for roughly four hours between charge?

Are there any reasons I shouldn't buy one? Is there something better coming out soon? Will the unit withstand a few years of use? Are repairs expensive?

Should I even consider buying one of eBay, or should I try and find a good price in a store?

Anything else that might effect my decision?

Will anyone ever stop the music?
posted by oxford blue to Shopping (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can browse a list of all PSP games here on Gamespot - just click by letter. Personally, I'm happier with the DS and I consider it a better gaming buy, but since you want multimedia... I guess I'm not being that helpful.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:21 PM on August 9, 2006

If you're looking for some quick and easy TV/DVD love, I'd suggest the Creative Zen Vision:M. It's 30 GBs of sexy-screened, native DivX/XviD/MPEG/AVI/WMV playback, and handles rhapsody/napster/other subscription music services, open MP3, and also JPEG/GIF/PNG and TIFF for pics.

The PSP is a bit unwieldy, the games aren't fantastic, the UMD format is pretty much dead and the games are expensive. For gaming, the DS is a much better choice, in my opinion.

The PSP is overpriced, under-battery-powered, and you have to pay for a decent-sized memory stick just to hold a single show or two. It makes for a nice SNES emulator machine, but it's not worth nearly $300 for one.

The Zen doesn't play games, but it has an amazing screen, great battery life (4 hr. video playback; conservatively 3) and good audio playback (14+ hours). Seriously, the PSP is obnoxious to hold. It's not at all ergonomic, and you're supporting a regime called Sony, one of the more evil companies as far as DRM/cost-benefit/format wars/RIAA bitchiness is concerned. That's just politics, though.

Yes, repairs are expensive, and there are quite a few moving parts to be weary of (think UMD drive/popout bay for it, etc.) I'd hope it could withstand years of use, but meh.

The screen is nice, but it's not worth it to me.

Plus, think storage, once again. Memory sticks are expensive. If you're looking for mostly a quick video solution, I guarantee nothing will brighten your day like copying and playing unconverted DIVX or quickly re-encoded TiVo shows to your Zen and playing them. It also outputs to a big screen at DVD quality and looks amazing for that purpose.
posted by disillusioned at 7:23 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

It's what I use during my commute so that I can catch up on the IMDB Top 250, but you really need to go out and buy a 2 GB memory card. I will probably buy a dedicated video/MP# device like the one disillusioned mentioned. Probably something with a larger screen, though.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:19 PM on August 9, 2006

i got a PSP so my kids can watch transcoded dvds in the car. its kind of a pain in the butt because the native video player wont recognize a file as video unless its named using a really lame scheme. the upshot is you can't use a descriptive filename, and its easy to forget what movie a given file is. you can embed the movie name into the metadata of course but you wont see this metadata when you are looking at the file on your PC.

probably if you load a hacked firmware you can find a better video player, though.

the screen is very nice and bright. its not loud enough though.

having to buy memory sticks is kind of lame, too.
posted by joeblough at 8:33 PM on August 9, 2006

probably if you load a hacked firmware you can find a better video player, though.

I've read that the latest firmware update will allow you to use a sensible naming scheme...but you don't want to go there if you plan on running any emulation/homebrew/warez.
posted by juv3nal at 9:24 PM on August 9, 2006

I love my PSP.

Is there something better coming out soon?

The better version has already come out.

First things first: if you would like to play "homebrew" games (that is, freeware games made for the PSP by individuals), you should NOT by a version 2.71 or 2.8 PSP. These are the current PSP "firmware" versions. Think of firmware like a Windows update, but they are basically to foil homebrew games. Sony does everything it can to prevent this, which is understandable.

The trick is, you won't know by the box what version it will be (there are about 7 (?) firmware versions). If you buy one from the store today, it's likely going to be the newer version.

So do an eBay search and look for older models. And it's not just homebrew, but game .isos that can be downloaded from...certain websites that rhyme with "abhorrent". Of these, there are plenty of games to choose from and more on the way.

The holy grail of PSP firmware is 1.5. You can install any homebrew apps with this version, and if you have another firmware (but NOT 2.71 or 2.8), you can downgrade your PSP to 1.5. Gotta have the *old* version of Grand Theft Auto:Liberty City Stories, though!

Video quality is quite good, and there are conversion apps with which you can create PSP-viable (MP4) movie files. The music player is fine, though it's a bit clumsy for that--small MP3 players are better suited for this. Battery charge is reasonable, it all depends on what you're using...movies suck more charge than anything else, I think. Surfing the net is great, it has Wi-Fi, and a lot of games utilize online multiplay.

Get a big Memory Stick Duo--1 Gig or larger. A standard 2 hour movie file runs around 500 megs. Check out this site and dig around for a lot more specific info...if you're into the hacking thing, that is.
posted by zardoz at 10:32 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Are there any disadvantages to earlier firmware versions? Conversely, are there any advantages to newer firmware versions?
posted by oxford blue at 11:18 PM on August 9, 2006

Earlier firmware versions may not let you play some newer games, but you can get third-party emulator software to get around that. Newer firmware versions have things like wireless web browsers, but you can get third-party emulator software to get that functionality.

You can watch movies under any firmware version, but to do all sorts of cool stuff, zardoz is right; you want one that can be downgraded to 1.5.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:22 PM on August 9, 2006

Worth it for LocoRoco alone.
posted by chrismear at 12:11 AM on August 10, 2006

Have you checked out Personal Media Players like the Archos AV500? No games, but should be better than the PSP for actually playing back video and music. Get a DS for the games if that's important.
posted by salmacis at 1:23 AM on August 10, 2006

Have you checked out Personal Media Players

Agreed. The PSP seems like a lot of extra work if your main goal is video playback.

Here's a 20GB 2.2" video player for ~$100 (after rebate). I haven't used this one personally but it gets good ratings. It's also an Archos - from the company that nvented the whole multimedia playback thing back in 2001. Archos players are usually light on the DRM, so that's a bonus.
posted by meehawl at 5:26 AM on August 10, 2006

Here's a handy tip for you, should you decide to go ahead.

If you go out of your way to source a Japanese PSP (for the better screen) running the 1.5 firmware (for homebrew), having spent weeks tracking one down, paying a little extra to get exactly what you want, and then waiting a month for it to be shipped internationally, make sure your thick-as-shit flatmate doesn't decide to enter your room without your permission, take your PSP, and then upgrade the firmware to 2.71 so he can play a fucking PSP demo game that he downloaded using the fucking internet connection he doesn't fucking pay for while you're out shopping for food (which he's probably going to eat when you're out paying the bills he doesn't contribute towards.)

Seriously, fuck that guy.
posted by Savvas at 5:27 AM on August 10, 2006 [2 favorites]

If it's video you want, I'd say no to the PSP. Heck, if it's games you want, I'd say no to the PSP. Mine has sat unused since Christmas, while the two DSes (DSen?) get far more use in our house.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:41 AM on August 10, 2006

and the games are expensive

Bullpucky. Every game for the PSP at Toys R Us this week was 29.95 or 19.95. I picked up some seriously cool RPG and the Lord of the Rings Tactics title for the 19.95 price each.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:06 AM on August 10, 2006

Putting video on the PSP is ridiculously easy now.

I use mine for gaming occasionally (I'm not much of a gamer) but use it frequently for video. The latest firmware update puts a folder on the PSP's memory stick called "Video" and all you need to do to get your files on the PSP is drag and drop. Anything formatted for iPod works.

I got the free Videora iPod Converter software and load a batch of TV shows, movies, whatever into it and in no time I have a folder of PSP video that plays back widescreen (at least the stuff that's widescreen to begin with).

I've had the PSP for a long time and have only a 512 meg card in it but it's enough for two hour-long tv shows, a 30 minute show and a few albums and photos.

The homebrew stuff is neat but not for me. The new firmware allows you to stream RSS feeds (I love Quirks and Quarks and other podcasts from CBC Radio) and even save them to the PSP for playback later. The built-in web browser is cool (even supports Flash now) but a little slow typing in URLs without a keyboard.

Certainly not for everyone but if you want to watch TV and movies and have some bonus functionality on a beautiful screen and PS2-level games (batteries do last for hours and even longer-lasting replacements are as cheap as $15 at Walmart) it's a pretty good choice.
posted by ChuckLeChuck at 8:20 AM on August 10, 2006 [2 favorites]

Don't get a PSP. Don't. It's expensive, the games suck, UMD looks to be a dead format, and there are better tools for watching video on the go.
posted by chunking express at 11:39 AM on August 10, 2006

Response by poster: Very useful feedback everyone!

I'm almost thinking I should just not get a PSP at all, and save up some more and buy a laptop.

And maybe a DS in the mean time. :o)
posted by oxford blue at 5:50 PM on August 10, 2006

Response by poster: Very helpful all. Have an extra ration point.

I think I may just save up longer and get a laptop, which would kill several, as the saying goes, and with no intent of causing offence to avian rights groups, birds with the, and this is said with no motive of offending stone pluralists, one stone.

I may also get a DS. Or one of those ball and stick thingies. :o)
posted by oxford blue at 5:58 PM on August 10, 2006

Response by poster: Hmm. Cursed internet.

But an interesting study as to the effect of coffee on my level of facetiousness.
posted by oxford blue at 5:59 PM on August 10, 2006

I got a PSP because my brother had a DS that I can borrow. I only play two games: GTA:LCS and Loco Roco. I don't use it for video because it's a nuisance, and frankly I think it's a stupid option if you want it mainly for video playback. I'd get a dedicated media player --- even an iPod would be better than the PSP for video.
posted by robcorr at 6:39 PM on August 10, 2006

...even an iPod would be better than the PSP for video.

Dear God, robcorr, did you actually type that? What are you on and where can I get some? First thing I thought when I saw the iPod Video was: "They shoulda turned it sideways, then put in the screen". The PSP's screen is twice the size of the iPod's, and the correct proportions for letterboxed movies to boot.

An iPod Video would be great...if I had an electron microscope with which to watch it! (zing!).

But since oxfordblue just wants a player, then yes, you can get a video player much cheaper than a PSP. Go for a big screen, though.
posted by zardoz at 10:28 PM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

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