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Man’s new best friend

December 10, 2007

Plain and simple. This is one of the gadgets that brought me back to the gaming scene. Coming from a Nintendo familycom (where you used to blow the cartridges to remove dust with matching tak-tak the bala!), then Sony PS1, PS2 and the amazing Nintendo Wii; I thought I’d already outgrew playing games and just decided that it’s time to move on to different things. The Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) has been around for quite some time and I just couldn’t figure it out before:

  • Why in the world would you play games on a small LCD screen when you can do it at home on a big screen TV on your console?
  • Why would you lug the PSP around with you when you can have a small and more portable ipod for video/music?
  • Why invest on Sony memory sticks which have low capacity, expensive and not usable on many devices which are mostly supporting SD/MMC media format?
    Why do I need to invest on buying Universal Media Discs (UMD) since it was the only supported format when the PSP was released?
  • Lucky for me, all the WHYs have been answered and that’s the time I bought my PSP… I’ve been converted.

I’ve been playing around with the PSP for a few months and the screen size is far better than I expected. I don’t think the ipod Video is a fair comparison but maybe the new iphone/ipod touch can give the PSP a run for its money. Game designers really knew what they were doing when it comes to portable games. Heck, if you need to play through your TV once in a while, then the PSP Slim is for you! It has a video out capability and every gamer’s dream come true: Gaming at home or on the road is now in your hands! Long road trip.. got my PSP! Delayed flight in the airport.. got my PSP! Constipated.. Got my PSP! Can’t sleep early.. got my PSP! Wife getting bored.. She’s got my PSP! (thanks Hon for leaving it behind with me for now) 

If you want to save around a thousand bucks, then go for the PSP Phat instead.. it’s heavier but if you’re not carrying it in your pocket anyway, I’d prefer the extra money be used for purchasing accessories.

The PSP is my mediabox. I load one or two movies, have mp3 files but majority of the space is taken up by games. This piece of gaming technology can do it all except make phone calls! NOTE to Sony: We’re still waiting for a Sony Ericsson PSP.. that would be a monster! Can you imagine a playstation with a touch screen phone, built-in camera and a media player..all-in-one! <drool mode on>

Let’s talk about capacity. You can’t compare this head-to-head with the portable ipod storage but the memory stick pro duo does its job! Sony memsticks can go as high as 8GB. It can be quite expensive so I resorted to the so-called “Class A” memory stick readily available in the market and a high-speed one at that. I’m using a 4GB ProDuo HS Magicgate memstick to store all the fun stuff! I’m patiently waiting for the 8GB version to stabilize and boy, when that comes out… it’s gaming galore and I can store more games than I could play ’em!

..and then it gets better. When I found out that the PSP can finally play games through CSO/ISO format directly from the memory stick with any UMD inserted, that was the deal breaker for me. The result — one of the best investments I’ve ever made! Spent around 2-3 hours looking around Greenhills and finding a good deal. The wife was very patient waiting for me at home and I was like a kid looking for my perfect toy. I had to make sure it was using custom firmware and can play CSO/ISO games. All you then needed to do was buy the unit and games are readily available through different distribution channels. What made me love this baby more was the customization piece of it. Reading up on pinoypsp, I learned about homebrew applications, open edition firmware and XMB theme customization.

With the current firmware I have (3.52m33-4), it doesn’t require UMD anymore for playing games unlike the older cfw versions. This means.. you are prolonging the lens of the UMD drive and most importantly.. battery life is longer! Yey! This was Sony’s direction to promote purchasing of games online.. in other words, it was a humble way of Sony saying if you can’t beat ’em.. then join ’em!

I’m now running on 3.52m33-4 but originally purchased my champagne gold PSP Phat with 3.03 OE-C. With enough courage and a lot of research to minimize or accept the risk of bricking, I upgraded my unit by myself to 3.40 OE-A then finally to the current version. The latest CFW available is at 3.71m33-3 but it’s not worth going to that version yet IMO. No games are requiring 3.71 FW yet and I’m super loving the Applecor XMB theme that I have right now and it doesn’t feel like a PSP anymore!

Here’s a pic of my unit a.k.a. Pimp My PSP:

PSP ko!

Specs:

  • PSP Phat 1001 Japan (needed to use recovery mode to interchange X and O)
  • FW: 3.52m33-4 (longest firmware I’ve ever used!)
  • Sony 4GB HS Pro Duo Memory Stick
  • XMB: AppleCor Theme
  • Hori Screen Protector
  • Capdase Alumor with silicon protection
  • Sennheiser CX-300 in-ear earphones (Thanks Sykes IT Team!)
  • Goofy dangle (This is what happens when you leave your PSP with the wife!)
  • Tips before buying a PSP:

    1. Make sure it is running on custom firmware. At the minimum it should be 3.52m33-4, but they usually upgrade the unit for free to the latest version which is 3.71m33-3.
    2. The memory stick should be a High Speed Pro Duo. There’s a difference on game loading times and speed of file transfers. Especially now that games are running directly from the memstick.
    3. Know what you want for accessories (usb 2-in-1 cable, headphones, camera, etc.). This will make sure you are within the budget.
    4. A large hard drive for storing all the CSO/ISO! Recommended >40GB.

    Tips after buying a PSP:

    1. Protect your unit. You can use a crystal case or like the one i’m using during travel. You never know when you need to sell it for an upgrade 🙂
    2. Format the memory stick to Fat16. This will make game loading times faster although capacity is slightly reduced. That won’t be a problem when the 8GB “class A” comes out.
    3. If you need to customize: Read, read, read. There’s a lot of websites out there that teaches you how to do this. Either that or you can just shell out some moolah to have it done in a shop. But the thrill and satisfaction of tinkering your gadget is always worth it when successful! You still need to play around with the recovery menu to change CSO/ISO speed, enable plug-ins, load custom intros and homebrew apps!
    4. The most important of all.. Enjoy!

    Hyew! That was a long one.. if you are now convinced to buy a PSP after reading this, welcome to the club! 🙂

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    2 comments

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