Thoughts on the PSP Go

By Mike on 8:06 pm

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Wow, Sony's new PSP Go isn't attracting a lot of positive press. Reviews have been vary mixed. Ars Technia offered a particularly scathing review. I've yet to get my hands on one but I think a lot of the criticisms seem justified. The consensus seems to be that the Go suffers from several common problems.

1. Awkward to use:
The Go's smaller size makes it difficult for adult hands. Remember that this device is primarily being marketed at teen and adult gamers. Placement of the analogue nub, which was never ideal in the original, is particularly awkward. The Go is only slightly larger than the iPhone, which is also a horrendous gaming platform.

2. No legacy UMD support:
None, nada, nothing. This thing cannot play 99% of PSP games currently out in the wild due to lack of UMD support. Sony had planned a trade in program but quickly confined that idea to the trash bin earlier this weak. Current PSP owners don't have any incentive to buy the GO if their game collection isn't compatible with it. While the PSN store has added a robust number of games, there are still a lot of titles that aren't up there yet.

3. Painfully Slow download times:
Go owners are reporting that games seem to take forever to download on the system. It's true that the PSP's 802.11b Wifi is painfully slow. Most mobile devices today use the faster 802.11g standard, with "b" being ancient by computer standards. I personally use my PS3 for downloading PSP content but not everyone has that option.

4. Poor Value:
The Go costs $249.99 for the core system where as the PSP-3000 costs $169.99. Compounded with the problems above, it's difficult to justify the cost. You can't honestly tell me that 16gb of wholesale flash memory is going to add $80 to the value of the system. It's a tough sell with the 32gb iPod Touch going for only $50 more, with double the storage, faster wifi, and a Swiss Army knife package of apps and games to go with it.

5. Dubious Improvement over PSP-3000:
The PSP GO offers games for direct download on the store that can be played strait from memory. So does the PSP-3000. The latter can also play UMD games. The PSP Go also apparently doesn't use a standard USB Type B cable for data transfer. Unlike the PSP-3000, it requires a proprietary connection. It does add Bluetooth but so far nothing supports it. There's a promise of being able to use the Sixaxis to control PSP games but I can't help but wonder if that defeats the purpose of a portable game system. Really, the PSP Go doesn't offer anything useful over previous PSP designs.

It seems to me that the Go is a system that really did not need to be made. I know I chewed out the PSP-2000 years ago but I think this one deserves criticism far more. It's just a neutered PSP that thinks it's a slider phone, yet costs more. Sony really needs to get their act together and realize that releasing new SKUs every year doesn't constitute innovation. nVidia just released its powerful Tegra mobile all-in-one graphics chip. If Sony were smart, they could have gotten the jump on Nintendo and released a PSP2 at this price point with hardware that already exists. Unfortunately, we just get another stop gap. Ultimately, the PSP's biggest flaw is still the lack of top tier games.

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