I was thinking about the relentless Sony bashing of late, which has been brought upon in big part by Sony themselves. Frankly, they have certain company representatives who simply can't help but mouth off in the most inane manner with a ridiculous amount of bravado and disregard for basic common sense. To put it bluntly, no one likes the 800-pound gorilla (especially in America, we prefer to root for the perceived underdog, justified label or not) or the "dick", and Sony has been both for some time now.
With all of that aside and all the future bashing of the PS3 - too pricey, too much tech, too this, too that - the system that is taking a lot of the heat at present is Sony's handheld, the PSP. All things considered, it's the best first generation (iteration of a) handheld ever outside of the original Atari Lynx. It has the right combination of everything, just with first design and first generation awkwardness, including poor placement of the power button, too long load times and slightly short battery life. It's also hampered by the now false impression that there are "no good games" for the system, a holdover from a dearth of software and quickie conversions during and after launch. It's still more a portable console than a portable portable, but it has a rich and still-growing library to appeal to gamers with just about any genre interest. The fact that it should soon be able to have official PS1 emulation only sweetens the pot and enhances the optimized portable console idea. The fact that Sony continues to update the firmware partly to curb unintended usage and partly to add interesting new features (Flash support in the Web browser, demo game downloads, more media support, etc.) can't be ignored either.
What's been making the news of late is how support for UMD movies is dwindling to a trickle and Sony is being forced to re-evaluate the concept. This to me is where Sony dropped the ball above all other areas and will haunt them and their fledgling handheld for some time. I don't care what anyone says - people don't mind buying the same stuff over and over again in different formats - that's indisputable. What people DO mind is paying just as much as or MORE for something with generally less features than the equivalent DVD in this case just for the "priviledge" of playing it on a portable system. I'm not a proponent of piracy, but when there are free to low cost options to convert DVD movies that hopefully you paid for for use on a memory stick, why wouldn't you go that option? What should have happened - and it's a long shot to ever happen at this point and may already be too late - is that these UMD movies should have been priced between $5 and $10 and tried to pack as many features (the extras) from the DVD versions as possible (some UMD movies do a better job of this than others - some are JUST the movie). I guarantee people would have bought the things in droves at such mass market pricing. Greed obviously played a big factor, as did movie studio ignorance as well. After all, profit margins are profit margins, even if it means only short-term revenue versus long-term success, right?
Sony isn't going anywhere, the PSP isn't going anywhere and I still suspect the PS3 will be a huge success, but all that Sony built with the PS1 and PS2 won't hold them forever if they don't get better with the public relations and the business miscues, starting NOW. After all, Microsoft is Microsoft and Nintendo is being categorized as the "innovative underdog", so that's a lot to compete with when you're not firing on enough cylinders like Sony is...
Well I've had my PSP for a couple months now and I must say that buying low resolution movies that can only be played on the PSP don't appeal to me that much. I opted for the 1Gb memory stick system and I have acquired some software that allows me to convert any DVD to a format that is compatible with the Sony PSP system. It works very easy and allows me to watch the DVD movies on the GO. This is third party software, but I could imagine that Sony would produce something similar that would allow users to convert a DVD to a PSP compatible format that could only be played on that particular PSP so that the movie files will not distributed as a file all over the web.
I have in fact 1 UMD movie, which is the spiderman 2 movie that came in the mail when you registered the PSP, I still have to watch that movie but I have watched quite a bit of my DVD movies on the go.
Only now I see interesting games appearing on the shelves, there's quite a few good RPG's coming out. Ridge Racer is a fine racer. Burnout too and of course I couldn't resist buying Outrun2006 - a game which I happen to own in virtually any format out there ;)
I have immensely enjoyed the download feature of my new xbox360 and it has resulted in buying quite a lot of the live arcade content and playing it a lot together with my girlfriend. I've also bought quite a lot of games just because I was able to play the demos from HD. I plan on getting the new testdrive for sure. Prey is a recent acquisition purely because the demo was just amazing - especially the cave sequence with the aliens flying around made me just want to own the game. Sony could strike big with this stuff on the PSP aswell. The Locoroco demo actually made me decide I wanted to buy this game within 10 minutes - the girlfriend loved it too wich helped. And let me assure you that I am quite particular about what games I buy - I am a retrogamer and own quite a few retrogames. Some of my consoles have a huge library but I tend to be more particular now only buying games that I really like playing.
The x360 gives me the same thrill as the Dreamcast did - there's some striking similarities between the two consoles. Both white for instance ;)
So Sony, get your act together and be a little more consumer friendly. I used to love your brand, the walkman, still have two perfect trinitron tv's (21" and a 14") with some old consoles connected to it. Use a simple sony taperecorder to record quite a bit of my patiÃ«nt sessions, make calls with my sony ericsson cellphone and take photo's with my cybershot sony digital cam. My appointments are stored in a SJ-33 Palm Sony device. But the Sony taste is getting a little stale.
-= Mark Vergeer - Armchair Arcade editor =-
My younger brother (Luke Barton) owns a PSP, and I was very impressed with the unit when he showed it to me last Christmas. I'd love to own one, but, quite frankly, I still cringe at spending so much on a unit that I'd have to "create a need" to play. I'm very much a homebody and don't travel unless it's really necessary (a few academic conferences a year, perhaps). When I do travel, I have my tablet PC, which lessens the need for a portable gaming device (and it lets me do productive stuff too).
So, in short, I'm wondering, even though I'm impressed with the PSP and admire it, when the heck would I use it? I can't imagine buying one just to sit with it on the couch. I already have five computers here (two PCs, one Linux, my tablet PC, and this iMac) to choose from. I also have a Dreamcast and a PS1 collecting dust in my closet now.
Then again, I did purchase Galaga and Frogger for my cell phone, and did enjoy those until the novelty wore off. Galaga was a poor choice (controls are tough), but I still crank up Frogger sometimes, particularly if I'm stuck somewhere such as a public lavatory.
When do you guys find yourself playing with those PSPs? And do you mind at all the inevitable comments/scrutiny from the public? I'd hate to be pestered by small kids wanting to borrow it.
I didn't know you had a Tablet PC, Mat! I always wanted one. I almost recently bought one of the amazing new Gateway ones that are loaded for cheap, but alas, I couldn't. I'm a huge Microsoft OneNote freak - it's what I use to write articles and my book - it helps me to organize notes and do drafts before copying over to Word - but I use on a regular notebook, so I need to use an external device if I ever want to hand write anything (which I rarely do, but mostly because of the hassle).
As for when I play my PSP, I sometimes play during lunch breaks at work or in the bathroom to keep myself occupied, if I'm not in the mood to read. Also, it's not always appropriate for me to play my regular consoles in the house with the baby and/or my pregnant wife sleeping, so I sometimes pull it out when I want to play a game but keep it low key. I'm definitely not a typical user for much of anything, though, but that's nevertheless how I use the PSP, as well as my other handhelds like the DS.
By the way, these are the games I have for it so far (the fact that it's mostly sports is coincidental):
Demo - Pursuit Force (UMD)
Demo - World Tour Soccer 06 (UMD)
Fight Night Round 3
Hot Shots Golf Open Tee
Loco Roco (downloadable demo)
MLB 06 The Show
Sampler Disc for PSP Volume 1
Virtua Tennis World Tour
(UMD Movie) Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Ridge Racer (love those PSOne rehashed tracks from the RR4 PSX title)
Wipeout - even though I am not a fan of magneto racers....
I play it on the jon, in bed, during nightshifts on the wait, when my girlfriend is playing on the x360 - she has in fact logged in more hours on the damn thing than I have.... ;)
-= Mark Vergeer - Armchair Arcade editor =-
The main problem with the damn thing is Load Times. It would be good to play Midnight Club while you are in the bathroom, but I am DONE doing my business in the can by the time the freaking TITLE SCREEN comes up! My PSP has been collecting a lot of dust recently...I was considering selling it but will most likely hold off.
www.LivingCausesDeath.com - My anti-everything, free-thinking social commentary Internet cartoon show.
That's why I think sleep mode is so important. That's the only way to have "instant on" with the thing. I usually play a game for several days on and off before switching it out. I'm sure they'll address it with future revisions of the hardware. I'd also like an option to not automatically boot a UMD. I thought I saw the option, but can't find it anymore.
Ha, that's a good one. I still think I'd probably get much more use out of a unit like that if I were still a teenager (or younger). Then I could use it while on family road trips or perhaps at recess at school. I guess I could ask my wife to do all the driving, but something tells me that she wouldn't like that very much. Still, I don't know why anyone would want to watch movies on it. Sounds like a gimmick to me.