Grumpy Gurevitz: Why it’s time to give the PSP Go a chance. Really.

It's not till you have it in your hands and slide out the controls, you realise how small and light the PSPGo really is. Mine is white though. Trust me - it looks better and is cheaper.

My PSP3000 recently developed a fault as the screen got two horrible lines going all the way across it. For some, this would be something they can live with. For me it was something that was a real problem and so I called Sony to find out what it would cost to repair, with the answer being; £75 with only a 3 month warranty.

That seemed quite steep for something which only had a 3 month warranty – if it had been 12 months then I would have been OK with it. It’s always worrying when they don’t believe their own replacement units (as they would send a replacement, not my unit repaired and returned to me) will last at least 12 months. Luckily for me, I had read that Amazon had dropped the price of the PSP Go to £150.

Now I should make it clear that traditionally I have been anti-‘Go’. At £225 it was overpriced. They made no incentive to previous PSP owners to get one due to the lack of a ‘trade your UMDs’ scheme. It used a different memory card slot and I begrudged the fact it seemed like a lost opportunity to add a touch screen and take the platform forward. Heck, even the system memory is the same, which doesn’t help functions such as the web browsing that has traditionally been poor.

Until mine broke I was very proud of my PSP 3000. Now I know better. It's good to 'upgrade'.

Yet I bought one. Why? Well there was the price which was at £150. Secondly I had been downloading games for some time anyway, and even though I have a selection of UMD games (not more than ten), I hardly played them. Thirdly Sony Europe do allow you to get three, free old games if you are upgrading from a 3000 system or below. It so happens that three of my UMDs which I do play were on their list of possible downloads, so that helped the transition.

Within two days of ordering the console, it had arrived in a rather unassuming box. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and all that, but Sony are underestimating the impact good packaging has on the first impressions a consumer gives a gadget. Both Apple and Nintendo excel at smart packaging which kickstart the user experience and emotional ‘attachment’ to their purchase. Sony, a company that has recently been in financial trouble, looks like it’s trying to cut costs, and have instead provided a box that is to the point. Its a box, it says PSP Go on the front and it has bland cardboard inside to separate the bits and pieces.

Beyond the packaging and onto the technology itself, I have only one gripe which I’ll get out of the way first; the power cord is way too short. PSP power cables seem to be getting shorter with each revision and I’m not too sure why. Have Sony done market research and found out that the amount of space in the universe has decreased in recent years?

Anyway the power cord aside, I’ll to come to the point; (at last I hear you cry!), this is the best PSP ever. Actually I’ll do better than that, this is one of the best portable media and game machines ever! I’m no Sony fanboy, as I own a DSi too, which is also a great device offering great gaming and social experiences.

However if we put the DSi in a category of its own (lets call it the category titled ‘Nintendo’, which as its name suggests only has one entry) then the PSP Go is a direct competitor for the Ipod Touch. In my opinion this kicks the Ipod’s butt. Let me take you through my list of reasons why.

The screen is amazing. I watch movies on the go and for watching movies this really does excel. It now has its own video store, but you can also rip movies off DVDs and the PSP shows them both off superbly. I still wouldn’t be able to watch a film in direct sunlight, but with a bit of shade it works pretty well outdoors too.

It has16 gigs of memory on board. For £150, this is now double what you get with the basic Ipod Touch. That’s superb value, even though I’m sure Apple will soon make their bottom of range 16 gigs. However, the PSP Go’s party trick is that their new memory stick format is a lot cheaper than their old Memory Duo format, so for £20 I can get another 8 gigs and for £40 another 16 gigs.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no fanboy, and I think the Itouch/Iphone are great products with a great software library. But if you want the best movie experience and the best AAA games I really think the PSPGo offers more.

The games in the last two years have really got a lot better than PSP launch titles, with developers working out credible ways of getting round a lack of a second analogue stick. Ideas such as assisted aim as used in the recent Socom game and Resistance Retribution work really well, and many games play well on the device. Plus you can see the game whilst playing it, and if you don’t know what I mean by that then check out Street Fighter 4 on the Iphone/Touch. It looks great unless you play it in which case your thumbs obscure everything.

Sony’s minis, which are meant to be their version of cheap Iphone style apps (but games only) are not bad. A little overpriced, but hey if it means the developers add features, improve the graphics and actually earn a decent amount I’m OK with that.

The device, like previous PSPs, packs RSS feeds (video and audio), internet radio and Skype (like the DS the PSP GO has a built in mic). Additionally Remote Play is there for communicating with your PS3 (if you have one) over Wifi and the form factor is superb. It goes nicely into a pocket and weighs less than my blackberry so at times I actually can’t feel it on my body!

For its size and new price it really is a great high end device. A friend of mine also recently got one. He had never really taken the PSP seriously, but suddenly felt that he had a complete PS2 in his hands. Due to the size of the thing you really do feel the ‘shrinkage’ factor at work here.

Now I know I’m meant to be grumpy, and normally that ‘grump’ is aimed at retailers, publishers and politicians. However when it comes to the PSP GO what makes me grumpy is the fact that Sony have failed to sell the device correctly and the gaming media has failed to point out that this is a superb device.

The PSP2 might be many things, but for many people starting with a PSP Go and then adding a huge leap in graphics, a lot more RAM, making the screen touch enabled and adding a second analogue stick where the current ‘select/start’ buttons are, is all we would need to take this device into the future. We would own the DS3d for its quirky gaming IP and our PSPGo2 would be our all round portable entertainment device.

The template for Sony’s potential success is already here. It’s called the PSPGo.

Keep the form, add another analogue 'nub', make it touch screen (maybe OLED), increase battery life and on board memory, make the media functionality wider, perhaps add 3G compatibility and that's the PSP2 sorted.

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

3 comments

  1. jeff /

    The reason I got a regular PSP over the Go! was because $250 is a crazy-high price for something I cant even sell the games back for. Also the only game that is currently announced that I actually want is Kingdom Hearts BBS….which wont be for digital download….if I spent this kind of money to realize the only PSP game I want was unreachable Id be more pissed than a dog at a cat party

  2. Couldn’t have said it any better! I’ve had mine sense day one and love it! Now only if Sony would give consumers some really incentive to go GO! If the GO was cheaper then a 3000 and the game were just even 5% cheaper then a UMD I think Sony would have a hard time keeping up with GO demand!

  3. KrazyFace /

    I think the Go! is a gap-filler myself. I’ve read about some of the chips and prossessers they are supposed to be putting in the next PSP and if what I saw is true, then the next PSP is gonna be a monster!

    I’ll be waiting and watching…

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