Definitions

Sony PlayStation Portable

PlayStation Portable

The PlayStation Portable (officially abbreviated PSP) is a handheld game console manufactured and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. Development of the console was first announced during E3 2003, and it was unveiled on May 11, 2004 at a Sony press conference before E3 2004. The system was released in Japan on December 12, 2004, in North America on March 24, 2005, and in the PAL region on September 1, 2005.

The PlayStation Portable is the first handheld video game console to use an optical disc format, Universal Media Disc (UMD), as its primary storage media. Other distinguishing features of the console include its large viewing screen, robust multi-media capabilities, and connectivity with the PlayStation 3, other PSPs, and the Internet.

Despite the console's superior computing power and its multimedia capabilities, sales have consistently lagged behind its main competitor, the Nintendo DS. After the release of a remodeled, slimmer, and lighter version of the PlayStation Portable, appropriately titled Slim and Lite, in early September 2007, sales quadrupled in the United Kingdom the following week and increased by nearly 200% in North America for the month of October.

History

Sony first announced development of the PlayStation Portable at a press conference before E3 2003. Although mock-ups of the system were not present at the press conference or E3, Sony did release extensive technical details regarding the new console. Then-CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Ken Kutaragi called the device the "Walkman of the 21st Century" in a reference to the console's multimedia capabilities. Several gaming websites were impressed by the handheld's computing capabilities and looked forward to the system's potential as a gaming platform.

The first concept images of the PlayStation Portable appeared in November 2003 at the Sony Corporate Strategy Meeting and showed a PSP with flat buttons and no analog stick. Although some expressed concern over the lack of an analog joystick, these fears were allayed when the PSP was officially unveiled at the Sony press conference during E3 2004. In addition to announcing more details about the system and its accessories, Sony also released a list of 99 developer companies that had pledged support for the new handheld. Several PSP game demos, such as Konami's Metal Gear Acid and SCE Studio Liverpool's Wipeout Pure were also shown at the conference.

Launch

On October 17, 2004, Sony announced that the PSP would launch in Japan on December 12, 2004 at a price of ¥19,800 (about US$181 in 2004) for the base model and ¥24,800 (about US$226 in 2004) for the Value System. The console's launch was a success with over 200,000 units sold the first day.

Sony announced on February 3, 2005, that the PSP would go on sale in North America on March 24, 2005 in one configuration for a MSRP of US$249/CA$299. Some expressed concern over the high price, which was almost US$20 higher than the system's price in Japan and more than $100 higher than the recently launched Nintendo DS. Despite the concerns, the PSP's North American launch was a success, although reports two weeks later indicated that the system was not selling as well as expected despite Sony's claim that 500,000 units had been sold in the first two days.

The PSP was originally to have a simultaneous PAL region and North American launch, but on March 15, 2005, Sony announced that the PAL region launch would be delayed because of high demand for the console in Japan and North America. A month later, on April 25, 2005, Sony announced that the PSP would launch in the PAL region on September 1, 2005 for €249/£179. Sony defended the high price, which was nearly US$100 higher than in North America, by pointing out that North American consumers had to pay local sales taxes and that the GST was higher in the UK than the US. Despite the high price, the console's PAL region launch was a resounding success, selling more than 185,000 units in the UK alone, more than doubling the previous first-day sales record of 87,000 units set by the Nintendo DS. The system also enjoyed great success in other areas of the PAL region with more than 25,000 units preordered in Australia and nearly one million units sold across Europe in the first week.

Variations

Retail configurations

PSP Core Pack
Country Release price Release date
Australia AU$349.95 September 1, 2005
Europe €199,99 September 1, 2005
India INR19,990 September 1, 2005
United Kingdom £179.99 September 1, 2005
Canada CA$229.99 March 22, 2006
United States US$199.99 March 22, 2006
Chile CLP$169,990 April 4, 2008
Brazil R$490,00 August 20, 2008
The PSP is sold in two main configurations that differ in which accessories are included. The basic unit package or Base Pack (called the Core Pack in North America) contains the console, a battery, and an AC adapter. This version was available at launch in Japan and was later released in North America and Europe. The Core Pack currently retails for CA$/US$169.99, ¥19,800, HK$1,280 or $1,360 (depending on the color), S$280, AU$279.95, NZ$299.95, €169.99, and £129.99.

The Value Pack includes everything in the Base Pack as well as a 32 MB Memory Stick Pro Duo, headphones with remote control, a carrying pouch, and a wrist strap. Some regions have modified versions of this pack that include different accessories. The Value Pack retails for US$199, ¥26,040, HK$1660, AU$399.95, and NZ$449.95.

Many limited edition versions of the PSP that include various accessories, games, or movies have also been released.

Colors

The PSP is currently available in ten colors. These include piano black, ceramic white, ice silver, rose pink, deep red, champagne gold, felicia blue, mint green, lavender purple, and metallic blue. Only the piano black model is available in all regions. The ice silver, ceramic white, and deep red versions are available as stand-alone models in Asia and as part of the "Daxter", "Star Wars Battlefront", and "God of War" entertainment packs in North America (with a Darth Vader silkscreen on the ceramic white model and a Kratos silkscreen on the deep red model). The rose pink, champagne gold, felicia blue, and lavender purple versions are only available in Asia and the mint green model is exclusive to Japan. The metallic blue color had been discontinued, but was made available again in North America as part of the Madden NFL 09 entertainment pack. Several other special edition models, such as the Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops camouflage PSP, have also been released. The pink and silver colors have been discontinued.

PSP Slim and Lite (2000 series)

At E3 2007, Sony announced that a new version of the PSP would be released in September 2007, for all regions. The redesigned PSP is 33% lighter and 19% thinner than the original PSP. The redesign also features composite TV output, supports charging via USB, double the onboard RAM (32 MB to 64 MB), and has a brighter screen. It also caches UMD data in memory to decrease game loading times. The WLAN switch has been moved to the top where the old IR receiver was to avoid accidental switching, and the speakers have been moved from the bottom of the screen to nearer the top, to prevent users from accidentally blocking the speakers with their hands.

PSP-3000

On August 20, 2008, a revised PSP design, model 3000, was announced at a press conference in Leipzig. Based on the Slim & Lite (PSP-2000) design, the PSP-3000 features an improved LCD screen, a built-in microphone, and expanded video-out. The LCD screen features a higher contrast ratio, shorter response time, and wider color gamut, as well as anti-reflective technology for improved visibility in well-lit environments. Expanded video-out capability allows gameplay video to be output in interlaced format. The model is scheduled for release in Japan, Asia, North America and Europe in October 2008.

Sales

As of March 31, 2007, the PSP has shipped 25.39 million units worldwide with 6.92 million in Asia, 9.58 million in North America, and 8.89 million Europe. In Europe, the PSP sold 4 million units in 2006 and 3.1 million in 2007 according to estimates by Electronic Arts. In 2007, the PSP had sold 3.82 million units in the US according to the NPD Group, and 3,022,659 in Japan, according to Enterbrain. In Japan, during the week of March 24 – March 30, 2008, the PSP nearly outsold all the other game consoles combined with 129,986 units sold, some of which were bundled with Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G, which was the best-selling game in that week, according to Media Create.

Region Units sold First available
Japan 8.57 million (as of March 30, 2008) December 12, 2004
United States 10.47 million (as of January 1, 2008) March 24, 2005
Europe 12 million (as of May 6, 2008) September 1, 2005
United Kingdom 2.9 million (as of September 2008) September 1, 2005
Worldwide 41 million (as of August 20, 2008)

Hardware

The PlayStation Portable uses the common "slab" or "candybar" form factor, measures approximately 17 x 7.3 x 2.2 cm (6.7 x 2.9 x 0.9 in), and weighs 280 grams (9.88 ounces). The front of the console is dominated by the system's 11 cm (4.3 in) LCD screen, which is capable of 480 x 272 pixel video playback with 16.77 million colors. Also on the front are the four PlayStation face buttons (, , ), the directional pad, the analog 'nub', and several other buttons. In addition, the system includes two shoulder buttons and a USB 2.0 mini-B port on the top of the console and a WLAN switch and power cable input on the bottom. The back of the PSP features a read-only UMD drive for movies and games, and a reader compatible with Sony's Memory Stick Duo flash cards is located on the left of the system. Other features include an IrDA compatible infrared port, built in stereo speakers and headphone port, and IEEE 802.11b Wi-Fi for access to the Internet, ad-hoc multiplayer gaming, and data transfer.

The PSP uses a 333 MHz MIPS R4000 (32-bit) CPU, a GPU with 2 MB onboard VRAM running at 166 MHz, and includes 32 MB main RAM and 4 MB embedded DRAM. The CPU was originally locked to run slower than the hardware was capable of and most games ran at 222 MHz. However, with firmware update 3.50 on May 31, 2007, Sony removed this limit and allowed new games to run at a full 333 MHz.

The PSP includes an 1800 mAh battery that will provide about 4-6 hours of gameplay, 4-5 hours of video playback, or 8-11 hours of audio playback. Official accessories for the console include the AC adapter, car adapter, headset, headphones with remote control, extended-life 2200 mAh battery, battery charger, carrying case, accessories pouch and cleaning cloth, and system pouch and wrist strap.

Software

System Software

Sony has included the ability for the operating system, referred to as the System Software, to be updated. The updates can be downloaded directly from the Internet using the Network Update feature, or they can be downloaded from the official PlayStation website to a computer, transferred to a Memory Stick Duo, and subsequently installed on the system. Updates can also be installed from UMD game discs that require the update to run the game.

While system software updates can be used with consoles from any region, Sony recommends only downloading system software updates released for the region corresponding to the system's place of purchase. System software updates have added various features including a web browser, Adobe Flash support, additional codecs for images, audio, and video, PlayStation 3 connectivity, as well as patches against several security exploits, vulnerabilities, and execution of homebrew programs. It is currently at v4.05, with v5.00 in development, to be released on October 15.

Graphical User Interface

The PSP's version of the XrossMediaBar (pronounced Cross Media Bar and abbreviated XMB) includes six categories of options. These include Settings, Photo, Music, Video, Game, and Network. The PSP has the capability to play photo slideshows and audio and video files, stored on a Memory Stick Duo, monitor and save content from RSS channels, and send and receive photos wirelessly with other PSPs while in ad-hoc mode. The PSP also includes the ability to customize the appearance of the XMB with different colors, photos, or themes. Although the XMB can be accessed at any time by pressing the Home button, the currently running application will exit before showing the interface (with the exception of a photo slideshow, and most of the applications in the "Network" column.). It is now also possible to change the appearance of the PSP with "theme" files, with there being few official ones mostly user made, though legitimate, theme files.

Web browser

The PSP Internet Browser is an embedded microbrowser that was released for free with the 2.00 system software update. The browser supports most common web technologies, such as [cookie]s, forms, CSS, as well as basic JavaScript capabilities.

Version 2.70 of the PSP's system software introduced basic Flash capabilities to the browser. However, the player runs Flash version 6, three iterations behind the current desktop version 9, making some websites difficult to view. The browser also has limited tabbed browsing support, with a maximum of three tabs. Pages are opened in new tabs either when a website tries to open a link in a new window using the HTML command target="_blank" or when the user selects a link and holds down "" rather than just tapping it.

Remote Play

Remote Play allows the PSP to access many features of a PlayStation 3 console from a remote location using the PS3's WLAN capabilities, a home network, or the Internet. Features that can be used with Remote Play include viewing photos and slideshows, listening to music, watching videos stored on the PS3's HDD, and several other features. Additionally, Remote Play allows the PS3 to be turned on and off remotely and allows the PSP to control audio playback from the PS3 to a home theater system without having to use a television. Although most of the PS3's capabilities are accessible with Remote Play, playback of DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and PlayStation 2 games, most PlayStation 3 games, and copy-protected files stored on the PS3's hard drive is not supported.

Games

In addition to playing PSP games, several PlayStation games have been rereleased and can be downloaded and played on the PSP via emulation. Currently, the only two official ways to access this feature is through the PlayStation Network service for PlayStation 3 or a PC.

Demos for commercial PSP games can be downloaded and booted directly from a Memory Stick. Demos are also sometimes issued in UMD format and mailed out or given to customers at various retail outlets as promotional content.

During E3 2006, Sony Computer Entertainment America announced that the Greatest Hits range of budget titles were to be extended to the PSP system. On July 25, 2006, Sony CEA released the first batch of Greatest Hits titles. The PSP Greatest Hits lineup consist of games that have sold 250,000 copies or more and have been out for nine months. PSP games in this lineup retails for $19.99 each.

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe announced on September 5, 2006, that a number of titles would be available under the Platinum range for €24.99 each in Europe and £19.99 in the UK.

Homebrew development

On June 15, 2005, hackers disassembled the code of the PSP and distributed it online. Initially the modified PSP allowed users to run custom code and a limited amount of protected software. Sony responded to this by repeatedly upgrading the software. Over time curious parties were able to unlock the firmware and allow users to run more custom content and more protected software.

Reception

The PSP received generally favorable reviews soon after launch and most reviewers cited similar strengths and weaknesses. CNET awarded the system an 8.1 out of 10 and praised the console's powerful hardware and its multimedia capabilities while lamenting the lack of a screen guard or a guard over the reading surface of UMD cartridges. Engadget applauded the console's design, stating that "it is definitely one well-designed, slick little handheld". PC World commended Sony's decision to include built-in Wi-fi capabilities while lamenting lack of a web browser at launch and the glare and smudges that resulted from the console's shiny exterior. Most reviewers also praised the console's large and bright viewing screen and its audio and video playback capabilities. In 2008, Time listed the PSP as a "gotta have travel gadget", citing the console's movie selection, telecommunications capability, and upcoming GPS functionality.

Controversial advertising campaigns

  • Sony admitted in late 2005 to hiring graffiti artists to spray paint advertisements for the PSP in seven major U.S. cities including New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. The mayor of Philadelphia has filed a cease and desist order and may file a criminal complaint. According to Sony, it is paying businesses and building owners for the right to graffiti their walls.
  • In 2006, Sony ran a poster campaign in England. One of the poster designs with the slogan "Take a running jump here" was removed from a Manchester Piccadilly station tram platform due to concerns that it might encourage suicide.
  • News spread on in July 2006 of a billboard advertisement released in the Netherlands which depicted a literally white colored woman holding a similarly literally black colored woman by the jaw, saying "PlayStation Portable White is coming." Some found this to be racially charged due to the portrayal of a white woman subjugating a black woman. Two other similar advertisements also existed, one had the two women facing each other on equal footing in fighting stances, while the other had the black woman in a dominant position on top of the white woman. The stated purpose of the advertisements was to contrast the white and black versions of its game console available for sale. These ads were never released in the rest of the world, and were pulled from the Netherlands after the controversy was raised.
  • Sony came under scrutiny online in December 2006 for a guerrilla marketing campaign hoping to go viral, for the console, with advertisers masquerading as young bloggers who desperately wanted a PSP. The site was registered to and created by the St. Louis, Missouri advertising firm Zipatoni on behalf of Sony before it was taken down.

See also

References

External links

Official websites

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