The new PSP 2.0 firmware hack has, as predicted, started a veritable cascade of sub-hacks, homebrews and workarounds.
We have the venerable Pong, and we have the PSP firmware downgrader. The downgrader is probably the bigger deal, giving owners of 2.0 PSPs the ability to downgrade to the thouroughly reamed 1.5 version, and thus access to the growing library of homebrew apps available on 1.5.
I don’t know whether to shake my head in pity or wonder at this insane device. Check out the GameDr Excelerator, a device which permits you to play your PSP or GBA:SP on your television screen.
Rather than try to cobble some sort of video-out connection into these handhelds, the mad geniuses behind the GameDr have created some sort of Frankenstein camera device that simply records what is happening on the actual handheld screen and directs it to the television. I guess the bulky enclosure would block out any ambient light (and hence reflections), so maybe the result would not be too nasty? Going by that photo however, I’m not sure how exactly you’re mean to get at the controls on the PSP.
The Sony PSP has been available for quite some time in USA and Japan, but we second-class citizens in Oceania and Europe only qualified to join the party on September 1. Feels like being let into some private VIP back-room after the party has finished and all the cool people have left. Of course you could get your hands on an import PSP from day one, but now you’d end up getting a spanking for being a bad boy, mainly because Sony are being a bunch of petty dicks.
So anyway, hands on impressions:
- The screen is every bit as impressive as everyone will tell you. It is simply stunning.
- The graphics and performance are significantly better than I expected. My last handheld console experience was with a GBA SP, wherein the ‘3D’ games were pathetic attempts. The PSP on the other hand is a fully fledged 3D monster, with NFS:Rivals being almost as impressive as if it were played on a full-sized PS2.
- The web browser, while an interesting sideline, is pretty pathetic. Although it supports 3 tabs, you’ll find that if you try to load data in one tab, the others are disabled, or appear blank. Once data is loaded you can switch between tabs, but that’s not really the point is it? I’m guessing a lack of multithreading is the problem here.
- Multimedia playback is pretty impressive. The graphical interface for music playback is quite pretty, and the PSP would make a nice little in-car MP3 jukebox (if you don’t mind being limited to 1GB of space.
- I found the button placement was a little bit awkward, but that might just be my big manly hands. Having to support the (not huge) weight of the unit whilst positioning my hands to use the buttons resulted in a bit of strain. I can imagine having sore hands after a decent play session.
Overall I’m impressed by the gaming grunt, but am sadly disappointed overall because I figured that a PSP could be a decent replacement for a PDA (minus the PIM functions of course).