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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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)|
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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