After Hours

Geek Gifts 2010: PSP Go

With the PSP Go, Sony has condensed the form factor a bit from the original PSP and included some great features, such as Bluetooth capability. But can it compete with other gaming devices for your hard-earned dollars this holiday season?

Sony's PSP Go isn't the newest or hottest handheld gaming device on the market, but since we didn't cover it for the Geek Gifts in 2009, we thought we'd buy one this year, try it out, and report our findings for the TechRepublic community.

No one can deny that Sony has a stellar reputation for producing quality gaming consoles. The PSP Go is no exception - it's compact, lightweight, and has a very bright and vivid display. The question that remains is whether or not the PSP Go is worth the price tag, especially when compared to its PlayStation Portable (PSP) predecessors and the PS3.

Specifications

  • Weight and size: 158g; 128 mm (W) x 69 mm (H) x 16.5 mm (D) - 43% smaller than the original PSP system
  • CPU: PSP CPU (System clock frequency 1 - 333MHz)
  • Memory: 16GB built-in Flash memory, plus expandable Memory Stick Micro
  • Display: 3.8 inch, 16:9 full transparent type; TFT drive; 480 x 272 pixel; approximately 16,770,000 million colors displayed
  • Sound: Built-in stereo speakers
  • Main Input / Output: Wi-Fi (802.11b); Bluetooth; USB2.0; Memory Stick Micro M2; Microphone
  • Power sources: Internal rechargeable battery; comes with AC adaptor and USB cable
  • Access Control: Region Code; Parental Control
  • Wireless Communicated: infrastructure &Ad hoc mode (connects up to 16 consoles)
  • Cost: $199.99 USD
  • Check out TechRepublic's Sony PSP Go teardown gallery

Supported Video Codec: Supported Music Codec: Supported Photo Codec:
MPEG-4 Simple Profile ATRAC3TM JPEG
H.264/MPEG-4 AVC ATRAC3plusTM TIFF
AVI MP3 BMP
Motion JPEG MP4 GIF
WAVE PNG
WMA

What I like

  • P is for Portable: The PSP Go lives up to its name with its reduction in size in weight. PlayStation Portable? Indeed. And can you more easily take it on the go? Absolutely. In fact, it reminds me of a mobile phone that slides open to reveal a QWERTY keyboard (like the Motorola Sidekick), except with the PSP Go, you slide it open to access the directional buttons, analog stick, Enter keys (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square), and the SELECT | START buttons.
  • Bluetooth support: Unlike previous PSP models, the PSP Go supports Bluetooth connectivity, and that means you can sync it with your Bluetooth headset and even tether it to your Bluetooth-enabled phone. What's even more awesome is that you can connect it and play games with a PS3 controller, which is a heck of a lot easier than navigating the small buttons and keys on the PSP Go.
  • It's pretty: Sony continues to produce gaming systems with very bright and vivid displays. From the XrossMediaBar (XMB), to game playing, to watching videos - there's no doubt that the PSP Go is visually appealing. The specs say that there are approximately 16,770,000 million colors displayed, and after spending some time playing around with the device, I believe it.
  • Full multimedia capabilities: That's right, you can use your cute little PSP Go to listen to music, look at photos, watch videos, browse the Internet, and even talk to your friends and family via Skype. Plus you can access the PlayStation Network and download stuff in the following ways: using a PC, wireless networking, or from a PS3 system. Did I mention that these are the only ways you can get games and such on your PSP Go, since there isn't a drive for UMD games? Oh wait, I'm saving that for the next section.

What I don't like

  • Reinventing the wheel: By this, I'm referring to absence of the UMD drive, which some folks love because you no longer have to carry around physical discs. With 16GB of Flash memory, and the ability to have even more room with the Memory Stick Micro (up to 32GB), there's plenty of space to download to your heart's content. However, I already own a PSP, and I have a bunch of UMD games and videos that are completely useless on the PSP Go. Come on, Sony... a peripheral drive would have been a nice option here. They also took a step backward by changing the mini-USB port to a proprietary port, which means my previously purchased PSP hardware and cables are not compatible with PSP Go.
  • Size matters: Sure, smaller gadgets are easier to tote around, but sometimes the usability suffers as a result. After a while of gaming on the PSP Go (God of War: Ghost of Sparta demo), my hand started to cramp a little bit, because the smaller screen, buttons, and analog stick contorted my hands closer together than the original PSP. However, as I previously mentioned, you can connect and play games with a PS3 controller via the Bluetooth functionality, but if you don't already own a PS3, be prepared to spend around $45 for a dualshock wireless controller.
  • Battery life: There isn't a difference in battery life between the PSP Go and its PSP predecessors, because you'll still get 3 to 6 hours for playing games and 3 to 5 hours for watching videos. However, when you compare this with the Nintendo DSi (9 to 14 hours) or DS Lite (15 to 19 hours), the battery life of the PSP Go doesn't seem so terrific.
  • Cha-CHING: You can find the PSP Go for sale online from $185 to $300+, but $200 seems to be the standard going price at places like Best Buy, Amazon, and Toys"R"Us. That's kind of a steep price, considering the cost of other handheld gaming devices on the market, such as Sony's PSP 3000 ($170), and Nintendo's DSi ($150 - and my personal favorite) and DS Lite ($130). Even larger gaming consoles aren't that much more expensive, including Sony's PS3 ($300 - and my personal favorite), Nintendo's Wii ($200), and Microsoft's Xbox 360 ($300).

Geek bottom line

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the PSP Go. Sony has condensed the form factor a bit from the original PSP and included some great features, such as Bluetooth capability. The display is great, and people who didn't previously own a PSP won't even be bothered that it has a new, proprietary port and doesn't play UMD games. My biggest beef is the price. I'm not saying that it isn't worth it, but there are other gaming devices and consoles on the market that will give you the same - if not more - bang for your buck.

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ****
  • Geek factor: ***
  • Value: ***
  • Overall: ***

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2010.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the several blogs.

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