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Saturday, October 31, 2009

DSi XL size comparison

Oh man... the DSi XL just continues to crack me up.

Kotaku has posted some pics showing how big it is compared to the previous DS Lite & DSi. What, no original DS comparison?? Come on!

But wow. That's kinda... big.

And then check out the pic of it beside a Wii game case:

Holy. It's seriously the size of a Wii game case when opened????

And some video from the Kotaku story of the DSi "in person":

When the DSi was announced, I was tempted by the slightly larger screen compared to the DS Lite. But the DSi XL *definitely* has a larger screen, no bones about it. Same resolution, so I'm not sure how graphics will look just resized up to that. And I'm not sure I really want a DS that's the size of a PSP-1/2/3K. That's something nobody asked for. I'd really like to hold a DSi XL (better start working out now so I'm strong enough when it comes out, hehe) just to see what the feel is like.

But I'm really loving my DS Lite right now. It's a decent size, and just a fun little system. The red & black colour scheme is really nice too.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Toshiba NB 200 netbook

Yesterday I got a Toshiba NB-200-005 netbook.... posting this entry from it.

The keyboard is a "chiclet" style, similar to Mac or Sony ones. It takes some getting used to, but I'm surprised how comfortable it feels. I was really torn between the Toshiba NB 200 & a Asus 1005HA netbook.... The Asus has a *really* good feeling keyboard, closer to a regular keyboard than any netbook I've tried. But I was really concerned about all the power adapter issues I read about with those models. I'm taking a trip to China.... and these power adapters are so proprietary... if it conked out on me, I'd spend a couple months lugging around dead weight. So I went with the NB-200. If I was at home, I might've risked it. Still, this one is pretty nice.

It has a "USB sleep & charge" feature that allows it to charge a device hooked up to USB even if the netbook is asleep or turned off. That will come in very handy for my PSPgo. I'm thinking that the only gadgets I'll be taking with me on my trip to China (beside my camera & shaver of course) is the NB-200, PSPgo, & maybe my Sandisk E280 mp3 player. NB-200's 6 cell battery promises "9 hours of life", while I doubt it's quite that good, it does seem close; I haven't charged it since yesterday, and have been using it for hours each day....

It's running Windows 7 Starter Edition, I was very wary about not having XP; in fact I considered it a plus that the Asus 1005HA had that. But windows 7 seems alright for now.... haven't had any major problems with it, still trying to find my way around....

I've never really used a laptop or netbook much before so this is kinda cool.


DSi XL coming to North America & Europe

What was first rumoured for Japan seems to be confirmed for everywhere else now. The DSi with the larger screens is coming, called DSi XL in North America & Europe (called DSi LL in Japan)

But check out the size comparison between the 2 DSis..... holy smokees.

That's freakin'...... huge. And check out that Stylus! "Is that a DSi stylus in your pocket or are you just happy to yadda yadda".

My initial response is that this whole thing is hilarious. Nintendo is making this console for OLD PEOPLE who can't see as good as they used to, who would appreciate a more grippable stylus....

Man. I can't stop chuckling when I look at the size of that thing. Sony is so obsessed with smallifying the PSP they're willing to break compatibility with its own library, and Nintendo thinks people want a handheld that can double as a life raft. It's all so nutty.

Though I'm not at this point saying the DSi XL (sheesh, even that name! *chuckle*) is bad. Bigger screen is actually cool, and the stylus like that is actually nice too.

I'm just shocked that this isn't around April 1st, because if it was, I'd never believe it. Especially the name.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Critter Crunch

Ok, so where the hell is Critter Crunch?!?

I've tried looking through the PS Store through Media Go and could not find it at all. I did a search for "Critter Crunch" and nothing came up.

Is this a Europe-only game? Because we should be able to get it in Canada if it's available in the U.S., right?

It's just annoying how PSPfanboy keeps whining about how it's out & nobody downloading it when I can't even get the demo to try out, let alone find the actual game.

More annoying is how crappy the PS Store interface is. They still have some MAJOR problems with it that haven't been addressed since the last time I used it, which was back in 2007. Like, how about putting a HELP link somewhere on the site? They do take our money after all, so... is it unreasonable to expect a bit of assistance when things go wrong on our end? And I hate how they advertise content, they lump ALL the PS3 & PSP stuff together. Can I play Pain on my PSP??? THEN WHY MAKE IT LOOK LIKE I CAN??? That's all I'm saying-- this is COMMON SENSE stuff. You *make it clear* what system a piece of content is for. Don't just lump them all together unless it is something you can play on both.



Monday, October 26, 2009

DSi getting bigger screens next year?

DS cutieHmmm. So there's this rumour that the DSi will be getting a bit bigger screen-- from 3.25" to 4". A minor upgrade, but with no additional cost. I wonder if the overall size of the DSi will be increased, too? Because it seems like it's a bit longer than the DS Lite already, though it also looks thinner.

I guess that Nintendo has established their history of messing with their handhelds with all the Game Boy variants they've released over the years. But it is annoying that all these companies have followed the terrible example that Apple has set with doing minor iterations of a product instead of a true upgrade. It seems to be the norm that all these companies are going to be releasing a "new" version of their hardware every year. I have no doubts that Sony will release a new PSP-variant next year. It will probably not be "PSP2", but just another minor "upgrade"... probably another PSPgo with a slightly bigger screen OR more onboard memory (32GB, perhaps?). It won't be both, because then what can they save for 2011?

And it's also kind of funny that Nintendo DS has increased the size of their screen with their minor upgrades, keeping the same resolution... while Sony PSP has *decreased* the size of their screen... keeping the same resolution......


Friday, October 23, 2009

Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron demo

Last night I downloaded the Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron demo to my PSPgo from the PS Store. Free and about 78 MB, it's worth downloading to try it out.

This is probably my most anticipated game of the year, so I have really high expectations.... expectations that I've tried to keep in check while waiting for the game to come out.

Ever since the original Star Wars Battlefront on Xbox, I've had to eat my words for my initial impressions of the 2 follow-up games. I played the Star Wars Battlefront II demo on my Episode III DVD, and it was an earlier build of the game so it wasn't as polished. I was at first very disappointed... but the actual game became one of my favourites.

Same with the PSP Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron. At first I thought they messed up the formula, but I have to say it is one of, if not my favourite game of all time.

So maybe my initial impressions are a bit harsh. But still, as cool as Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron is in concept, there seem to be some annoyances that really mar the experience.

They kept the 2 control settings: "Default" & "Alternate". I choose "Alternate" because it makes the face buttons for look. The problem is, it maps the steering for spaceships to the face buttons. The analogue nub is only for controlling speed: you push up or down basically. That seems like such a huge waste, and to not have the analogue nub steer a flying vehicle seems so very, VERY wrong.

I've tried it with the "default" controls which does map ship steering back to the analogue nub, but it still seems very awkward, not to mention that I don't want to have to adjust the options every time I switch from ground to air playing.

For Battlefront II & even Renegade Squadron (which is the developer of Elite Squadron too) they made a point to address that the vehicle control in Battlefront I was bad, and that they were going to improve on that... which they did. So Elite Squadron's starfighter controls seem like a major step backwards to the clunky awkward feel of Battlefront I and even worse because space battles are a huge integral part of the game.

Another thing I noticed right away was the overall game interface. It looks fancy, but cluttered. I *hate* how all the enemy soldiers have these HUGE circles around them, showing health but obscuring who they even are. They could be WWII Nazis as far as I can tell with that junk just making a mess & taking me out of the Star Wars experience. Do we really need those huge circles?

The graphics & design have made a bit of an improvement, they have to be commended for that. But these issues really bug me. So far I've played all 4 factions on the demo's Tatooine map, and the overall battle seems a bit random & chaotic; echoing some of the *broken* aspects of Battlefront I's gameplay.

The maps do seem big, much bigger than Renegade Squadron. Right now they seem a bit TOO big with pointless areas, but I might just need to get used to them.

I hope this demo is just an early build and that the actual release game will be more polished, but I doubt it as it's coming out November 3, 2009-- a bit over a week from now.

There's so much that's cool about this concept: you fight on the ground, and can fly up into space, where you can fight other starfighters or board an enemy capital ship. The capital ships are more expansive than they've ever been on the PSP. But I wonder if the idea's a bit too ambitious for its (or developer Rebellion) own good. Maybe the game will grow on me, maybe I will end up eating my words again. I sincerely hope so.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

PSPgo pause game feature

An odd thing about the new PSPgo "Pause game" feature..... yes, you can choose to pause any game & it saves it in the XMB until you resume, delete or start another game-- even if you turn off the PSPgo (not just sleep mode). But I've noticed after pausing & resuming a game, then finally quitting it to go out to the XMB, that the music or video (probably pictures too) don't resume where you last left off.

I think they resume where you last left off before you first paused the game.

To clarify: this morning, I turn on my PSPgo, I watch a bit of video of the Star Wars Battlefront Elite Squadron GameSpot Webdoc. After that I listen to Radiohead's In Rainbows album. I'm on the final track, "Videotape" when I decide to stop that & go play Super Stardust Portable. I'm playing that for awhile, and I'm in the middle of a level, normally the game only saves between levels (or upon game over) but I want a break so I choose "Pause game". It saves to the XMB.

I finish listening to Radiohead's "Videotape" and onto the next folder. Listen through a bunch more songs into that folder.

I then watch some video I taped last night, The Tudors. Then I decide to resume my Super Stardust Portable session. Play a bunch of that, then finally quit the game.

When I go back to MUSIC it should be the last song I listened to. But it's not, it's the last song I listened to BEFORE I saved that game session-- "Videotape" by Radiohead.

I go back into VIDEO. It should be the last video I played: The Tudors. But again, it's the last video I played BEFORE I saved that game session-- The SWBF webdoc.

Kind of odd. I'm not sure what to make of this, is it just me, or does the PSPgo pause game feature need some work? It's almost like it rolls back the entire system to before you paused the game-- sorta like Windows XP's System Restore feature.

Even though I updated from the included 5.70 to 6.10, there are still a few little things in the PSPgo firmware that are not quite polished as they should be. Like lack of "Battery Information" in the SETTINGS menu.


Monday, October 19, 2009

CR-5400 doubling up my folders

Yipes. So the latest news on my replacement PhotoFast CR-5400 adapter.... it was working fine, but I knew the real test was how it would write data to the MicroSD cards, game save data and anything I drag & drop to it.

I'd put 1 or 2 new videos in just to see if everything's alright... they loaded onto the card & played fine. I deleted them from the PSP.

But now I'm looking at the content of my PSP's VIDEO folder on my PC & find that the folder that had those videos has doubled!

How is that even possible?? I thought that 2 identical file names couldn't exist in the same area. They both have the same files in them. And when I moved a new video to ONE of them, it shows up in BOTH of them.

This is not good. Not good at all.

But on the PSP, there's only 1 "taped tv shows" folder. I'm not sure if the data is being doubled or if it's just a hiccup of the adapter. The video I transferred is House of the Dead which I taped last night. It looks really cheesy bad (I can't believe someone made a movie based on that videogame!) so if I lose it, not a big deal. Still, I'd much rather my adapter work properly....

I will update if anything further develops.


Friday, October 16, 2009

PSP-3000 ummm... not love

Ennhhhh...... so, I finally got to see a PSP-3000 today, in person (so to speak)

Now I know what people are talking about with the scan lines. Just flipping through the XMB, it's noticeable, even if barely.

If you haven't seen it, let me eloquently describe it in a way that has never been done before because everyone else on the internet is an IDIOT and *I* am a GENIUS (or at least not an idiot. Well, not an idiot about Sony. Ok, just forget that part about me buying a PSPgo. I'm not an idiot about the rest....)

When you flip through the icons in the XMB, imagine them turning into a bunch of horizontal lines for a second as they move:


Except really close together. I can see why it would be hard to video record it, but if you see it in person, you can tell. I never got to watch video on the PSP-3000, but I bet it would be much more visible then. It's too bad, because otherwise the PSP-3000 is a nice enough piece of kit.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

PSP-1000/2000 love

Spending some time with the PSPgo, as much as I am enamored with it, has made me realize how much I still love the "old" PSP. There's still lots to love there.

The screen: it was always touted by Sony mouthpieces that the nice big screen is a huge feature of the device. Amazingly in this case they speak the truth. The PSPgo screen is more vibrant, but it is still smaller. One thing that nobody has ever said about the PSP is that they wish the screen was smaller. After watching video on the PSPgo, it is kinda nice to get it bigger on the PSP, even if the colours aren't quite as bright.

The controls: not only their placement, but the size of them on the PSP are better. The PSPgo controls are meant to be small, the entire thing is about small small small. They're not terrible, but having face buttons & analogue nub that's 2/3 to 1/2 the size of the regular PSP... again, I don't think anyone ever asked for that. The regular PSP controls feel like they can stand up to some rigorous game playing... on the PSPgo, not only is the panel that has the controls on it thin, but those controls are sunk down inside those "craters", so the actual surface you're playing on feels very thin.

I've been playing Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron on both systems... this game gives my hands the most energetic workout of any PSP game I can think of... I really enjoy getting into it & trying to push my character to do things as far as it can. On the PSPgo, I tend to try to take it a bit easier than if I was playing it on the regular PSP. Also having the D-pad right above the analogue nub as opposed to being to the side feels a lot better when switching between the 2 to do special maneuvers or whatever. It may just be because I haven't played the PSPgo as much....

My new Photofast CR-5400 adapter came today, and I've been trying it out a bit. I switched the micro SD cards into it & it worked fine. I deleted most of the corrupt files, but there is still one that won't delete. Hopefully if I reformat the card in my PSP it will get rid of it, but I haven't tried it yet. I have a lot of stuff on there.....


Monday, October 12, 2009

My idea for PSN digital & UMD game pricing

Here's how I think UMD & digital download from the PS Store game pricing should be handled:

Sony & 3rd party PSP game makers release a game in UMD format. Price it MSRP, say $40.00 or whatever.

Offer the same game on the PS Store for digital download 3-4 weeks later, and price it 25% less than the UMD. $30.00 for the download.

I know a lot of people will think that everyone will just wait for the digital release if it comes out for 25% less, and this will screw over the retailers who carry UMD games, etc. But the 4 week wait period will work in retailers favour: early adopters who want it on UMD will pay a bit more, but they'll get a hard copy & instruction booklet, etc. Digital download copies don't have any physical assurance of their game, the e-instruction booklet is never as good & such. Because of the less expense on SCE & the game maker's side, consumers should get to pay like 25% less.

Maybe this method will kill the UMD format & drive most of the sales to the PS Store. I don't know. But as to retailers feeling "betrayed" or whatever, I keep pointing out to those who say such junk that there's this device called, umm, the iPod Touch/ iPhone where retailers don't see a single cent from the apps bought for those devices, yet they sell the hardware nonetheless.

Savvy shoppers also know that games drop in price 6 months to a year after release, and if they wait long enough, they might be able to get the UMD copy of a game for much less than either MSRP or PS Store price..... and Sony could have some sales at their PS Store, they've started doing that a bit.

So I think this is a pretty reasonable model for handling PSP game pricing. I know there's a lot of other factors involved & it may not be that easy. But hopefully it'll happen. Do I think it will?

Of course not. This is Sony we're talking about.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

PSPgo - AD HOC with PSPs

Tonight I managed to find answers to some of the questions I pestered that Sony rep about at Future Shop about the PSPgo... specifically the AD HOC mode: can a PSPgo AD HOC with previous PSP models, can a digital & a UMD copy of the same game get along?

The answer is yes.

I loaded up Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron on both my PSP-2001 & PSPgo (PSP-N1001) and they communicated pretty much like any other 2 PSPs.

I also wondered about Game Sharing-- can a PSPgo recieve game sharing data from a PSP with a UMD game? Yup, did it with Wipeout: Pulse... though it was annoying trying to figure it out... the game sharing mode on Wipeout: Pulse is not in the AD HOC menu like it should be. It's in the EXTRAS menu. Oh well, it worked great, in fact after the game was transferred the PSPgo, it loaded the data way faster than my PSP-2001 loading it from UMD, so the PSPgo had to wait for the PSP-2001 to finally join in.

One feature of the PSPgo I haven't talked about is the PAUSE/RESUME game setting. So in the grey Do You Want to Quit the Game? screen, there's Quit and Pause. A lot of reviews have talked about it; it just saves the game in mid-play wherever you leave it (whether in mid-game or at a pause menu) and on the XMB there's a RESUME GAME icon in the GAME section when you've paused a game. It's a handy feature to have. So Wipeout: Pulses' game sharing is like a demo but not stored permanently; you turn off your PSP & the game sharing data is erased. But with the PSPgo's pause game feature, you can keep the game there, play music, video, whatever on the XMB & come back to it. Kinda neat.

UPDATE: The RESUME GAME save stays on the XMB even if you turn the PSPgo hard off, not just sleep mode! That's cool. But it does warn that if you "change the PSP settings" it may do something to the save. So I guess you don't want to have a PAUSED GAME then mess around changing your XMB theme or wallpaper or something....


Saturday, October 10, 2009

PSPgo - the PS Store

First off, remember how I mentioned that Future Shop was selling those PSN game cards.... they were mostly Greatest Hits titles; God of War: Chains of Olympus, Twisted Metal: Head On, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, etc. they were selling them for standard retail price, $19.99 & up. I went back in there yesterday, and they were almost completely gone. They had STACKS of these things, hanging up on pegs, and there was only a small pile of an NBA game PSN card left.

What gets me is that when I checked out the PS Store, I saw a lot of those games for LESS than what Future Shop was selling those cards for. Twisted Metal, for example, is on the PS Store for $14.99, and I know that those PSN card versions of it were $19.99.

So makes me wonder, are PSPgo owners kinda, ummm... stupid??? Seriously..... obviously this resurgence in sales is due to the opening week of the PSPgo launch. And of course new owners are really excited to load up this new console with games. But to buy a card that is a voucher for a game-- not the actual game itself, just a placeholder til you download it-- aaaaaand to pay MORE for that card than you would if you just went to the site itself (which you have to go to with the card anyway) and just paid for it there. Or if you don't want to pay online, you could just buy a general PSN card & spend it however you want. I will say though, that Future Shop didn't have any PSN cards when I checked, and it's not made clear that you can do that by them or Sony at all... a major marketing slip-up there.

So... the 2nd part of my PSPgo experience. For the first week or so I just played with it offline, no access to Media Go software & the PlayStation Store. Last night I installed Media Go; first I updated my Quicktime because I knew it required that for some reason. I hardly ever use Quicktime.... and I also uninstalled my old PlayStation Network Downloader from back when the PC access was more direct instead of being through Media Go. I also of course had to update the PSpgo's firmware to 6.10.

IMPORTANT NOTE: if you're updating through a PC and getting the update from the PlayStation site, be aware that there are *TWO DIFFERENT FIRMWARE UPDATES*. One for PSP-1000/2000/3000 models and one specifically for the PSPgo (PSP-N1000). On the Update page they don't really explain that clearly, so make sure you get the right update for the right PSP!

After jumping through all those hoops, I gave it a shot & tried to download from the PS Store, a demo for Undead Knights. I had some problems, I kept getting this message:

A connection error has occurred. (0x80048b1f)

I have to admit, I was pretty down about it. If I couldn't get the PS Store to work for me, I'd have to return the PSPgo, otherwise what good is it? So today I checked my firewall settings, did everything I could to get this to work, and it did! It updated the PSN downloader and everything seemed to work.

I have no idea if/when my PS Store access will bugger up again. I have to be prepared that it might just decide to not work for me tomorrow, next week, whenever... so I bought a few games.... honestly, there's not a lot on there that I'm dying for or anything. For now, last I checked, it worked.

I've been thinking who is the PSPgo for? What is Sony trying to accomplish here? I think I have a better idea of what they want: they want PSPgo owners to download games, but they mostly want them to download video; tv shows & movies. The vast majority of the PSP PSN content is video; they claim there's something like 16,000 pieces of downloadable content and 225 of it is games. You do the math.

Well that leaves Canadian PSN users out in the cold since we can't buy video content from the PS Store. But honestly, I wouldn't buy that stuff even if I could. yeah I load lots of tv content on my PSPgo (and PSPs) but it's from the Neuros Recorder 2+. Paying per show seems like a rip-off to me, but I guess if you don't subscribe to cable & only buy a few shows then it's worth it for some.

So I'd say the PSPgo puts a priority on video (they want you to buy it from the PSN) and then games. With it's smaller size & most of the same featureset of the previous PSP, it's clear that Sony sees it as a media player first & game player second.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

fake memory stick adapter?

Man... I've been having problems with my PhotoFast CR-5400 adapter I bought back in March.

Last night I was playing Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron on my PSP... I was playing the Galactic Conquest mode, and I wanted to save the game before I quit. When I went to do so, the memory stick light was flashing for a long time... way longer than it should be-- it usually saves game data in 1-2 seconds. After flashing for like 30 seconds it finally came back to me with a "Game save failed" message. So I tried it again, and again another save fail.

So I just exited the game & checked out the data at the XMB save data menu. Sure enough there were 2-3 corrupted files. Very odd. When I tried to delete them on my PSP, the delete failed! Not good.

I then hooked up my PSP to my PC in USB mode, went in to see these folders/files, tried to delete them. I managed to delete 1 folder with files inside them by deleting the files 1 at a time. But there are 2 corrupted folders that Windows won't allow me to delete! What's worse, when I come out of PSP>SAVEDATA my PC stops detecting any info on my PSP at all! Yikes...... NOT GOOD AT ALL.

So I turned off my PSP & charged it overnight. This morning I turned it on, when it got to the XMB, there was NO MEMORY STICK icon at all, and the memory stick light was pulsing... like once per second. This looked very, very bad.

I restarted the PSP, same problem. Then I put the PSP into sleep mode, and turned it back on. The memory stick showed up normally, with all the data it should have. I'm glad I can still access it. But I can tell it's going to fail again, and this is the end for it.

I think it's the adapter, it's possible it could be the cards, which is really bad since they cost so much. I dug out the adapter packaging, as show in the pic above, and checked out that page put out by PhotoFast on how to spot fake adapters. I noticed that my packaging doesn't have shiny silver lettering, it's just plain white. I'm thinking that the adapter I got from DealExtreme is probably fake.

I do have a rule when buying products from places like Deal Extreme who sell a lot of fakes: never buy a battery or memory cards from these types of places. If it's just a hunk of plastic like a battery cover, it probably doesn't matter if it's "real" or fake, but actual electronic stuff-- as long as you know what you're getting. I sorta broke the rule by buying that adapter, but it was the only place I knew of that shipped to Canada.

And for 8 months, it worked awesome. I haven't had any problems with it at all until now. It's just strange that it would go after all this time. Usually fakes make themselves known right away; they generally don't work right out of the gate. Maybe shoddy materials just couldn't take the stress over the 8 months of use?

I just ordered another CR-5400 adapter from a Canadian site... I really hope it's authentic, as I paid a lot more for it than at Deal Extreme. As long as it's authentic, it'll be worth it.


Monday, October 5, 2009

I bought a PSPgo - initial thoughts part 1

Saturday night I went out & bought a PSPgo.... I'm not sure if I should keep it.

There are some really nice things about it, but there are a lot of issues. There's tons of reviews out there of the handheld-- so I'll try not to go over the same ground too much.

In a nutshell: The PSPgo is a great small media device first, and a handheld gaming console second.

First, the price. At $250.00, it's expensive. But there are a couple things to consider: The Canadian price is the same as the U.S. price, which is rare/unheard of right now. More importantly, the PSPgo has 16GB of flash storage built in. In Canada, a 16GB memory stick pro duo usually retails for about $100.00. So it is close to the price of a PSP-3000 & a 16GB memory stick. I'm not saying that the PSPgo should be $250.00, but it is almost understandable. I do think that there will be a price drop soon, maybe after Xmas.

My initial impressions:

The screen panel that slides out.... it's jiggly. It doesn't feel like it will slip out of the extended position; I've held the PSPgo straight up & down & it stays in place. But there is some wiggle of the panel-- about 1 mm-- which is annoying. On my DS Lite, once I unfold the top screen out it clicks into place & feels solid. The 2 DS lite panels feel like one unit. The PSPgo... the shakiness of the top panel constantly reminds you that it's balancing the top screen panel on the 2nd one when you hold it, and I don't like that. Normal micro-tremors of your hands will shake the screen panel. It's the single biggest issue I have with the gadget.

The screen quality, however, is pretty good. Colours are noticeably deeper & more vibrant than on my previous PSPs. In the System settings there's a color mode: wide or normal. Wide is a little better, but they're both fine. It seems that Sony has adopted the colour mode from the PSP-3000 but there's no interlacing issues that screen has. This is more like the previous PSP screens... and I know that LCDs fade over time, so the brighter colours of the PSPgo screen may just be because it's newer (than my other PSPs)

The screen is smaller, not by a lot, but smaller, with the same resolution. This is good, but it may be problematic for some games that are made for the regular PSP screen. I know there were some comments that God of War: Chains of Olympus had parts where Kratos is really small on the screen... well, if he's small on the regular PSP, think how small he'll be on the PSPgo.....

Drag & drop: I've talked about how I love that the PSP is a drag & drop device. Fortunately the PSPgo is, too. I was shocked to find that not only did it have the PICTURES, MUSIC, VIDEO, PSP folders, it also has the MP_ROOT folders with 100ANV01 and 101MNV01 inside! I was really happy to see that, as a lot of my video will only play in the ANV folder, and not in the VIDEO folder for some reason. Basically the firmware 5.70 which ships with the PSPgo still supports it.

Built-in storage with memory stick micro (M2) expansion. Yes, we all know that the PSPgo has 16GB actual use 14GB onboard flash storage. But how does it work if you also have a M2 card in there? I don't have one, so I haven't tried it, but I'm pretty sure that it sees them both as seperate storage areas, like partitions on a hard drive. So say you go into PHOTOS, below the camera icon will be storage (with however much memory is left) and below that would be memory stick (with however much memory is left).... I'm not sure, but I think that if you have a memory stick in the PSPgo, it will just double the folder structure that's on the onboard storage? So just another set of PICTURES, MUSIC, VIDEO, PSP folders, etc.??? Sounds weird, but I can't see how else they'll do this. So when you access any data, you basically have to pick from where you want to access it from? That's less convenient than my current Photofast 32GB MicroSD setup, where both 16GB cards are seen as 1 big 32GB memory stick on my PSP-2001.

Gameplay on the PSPgo: Ok, this is a big one. The control scheme is laid out very differently than previous PSPs, particularly the D-pad & analogue nub. We're all aware of this.

I kinda thought that a layout like the one below would be better:

I was skeptical of having the analogue nub so close to the center of the device, but the PSPgo is so small that it sort of makes sense. Your thumb stretches out more to reach the area, and it sort of works. It also makes it easier to grip the PSPgo, if the nub was closer to the left edge less of your hand would be able to hold the handheld, maybe? I dunno, there's so little control realestate there, not a lot of space to work with.

So the controls feel sort of ok. The analogue nub is about 2/3 the size of previous PSP nubs. But the biggest problem is it's recessed into that hole around it. I think the analogue nub on the PSP is one of its greatest strengths as a handheld; nobody else had done this before. So I really wanted to see how the PSPgo's nub would deal with some of the more intense 3D shooter games-- I loaded on the demo for Syphon Filter:Dark Mirror. I found the skin of my thumb getting pinched in that recessed hole quite a bit. I think if I raise my thumb rather than lay it flat against the nub it might help, but it will take some getting used to. I've said it before, but it feels like the PSPgo would rather players use the D-pad.

Which brings me to the D-pad & face buttons. They are also smaller than on previous PSPs. The d-pad has that slide around feel, you know how you can slide the d-pad around underneath the faceplate? But both the pad & face buttons are very low to the system. They don't really press down, more like a clicky feel to them. So any amount of pressure triggers the click of the button response. It's not bad exactly-- but it all feels less like a console, doesn't even feel like the regular PSP buttons, feels more like a less intense gaming device. Like if you play games on a cellphone.

The shoulder buttons are the most different. They have way less "press" to them, and in fact are very VERY sensitive. Overly sensitive. I found myself accidentally shooting my gun in Syphon Filter, and skipping tracks while on the music playback screen. I also played a Loco Roco demo, and I had a harder time with it than I normally would. Again, might just take getting used to.

The small screen & the less precise controls made it harder for me to do accurate things that I need to do in Syphon Filter, like aiming for headshots. it may just be that I need to get used to playing on the PSPgo, but I do find it's not as suited for gameplay as the regular PSP. The priorty of this system seems to be to make a smaller PSP. I've thought many times that I would like my PSP to be smaller; I originally bought it for mp3 playback, and while I got into the gaming part of it bigtime, I love its media functions and a smaller form factor would really help its portability. I guess it's sort of a case of "be careful what you wish for". Sony is like one of those evil Genies that corrupts your wishes. I can't even count the number of posts I've read where people said they wanted a downloadable PSP, and all the hate for UMDs... which I don't exactly understand; to me it's like saying "I hate that the Xbox plays game discs!!!!!" or "I hate that the DS plays cartridges!!!" What's the difference? UMD is just a format. I will say that DS carts are small; I have about 12 DS games & most of them fit in my DS case. But back on point: all those digital download fans got what they asked for, just that Sony corrupted their wish by making digital version cost the same/more than the UMD version, lack of selection, etc.

So the PSPgo is sort of a culmination of corrupted wishes. But all that said, it is still kinda nice. It is easily the most portable PlayStation Portable created so far.

UPDATE: I started writing this entry on Sunday, and it's now Monday night.... I have to admit, the PSPgo is growing on me. I'm not sure if I *will* take this thing back after all.... I dunno. I'll have to see if I can install Media Go and access the PS Store properly. I've had problems with them & haven't gone back since then.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

salivating over the PSPgo

Oh man.... I just got back from Future Shop... I am seriously considering picking up the PSPgo, even though there's NO RATIONAL REASON to do so.

A Sony rep happened to be there, and I cornered him long enough to pick his brain about it. He had a PSPgo with him, it was in the leather traveler's case, which looks really nice. Let me tell you, THE THING IS SMALL. I knew it would look smaller in person, but it is an impressively cute package.

The Sony rep didn't know lots, but he had hands-on experience with the PSPgo. I asked him whether AD-HOC gaming where one person had a PSPgo with a digital copy of a game, and the other had an older PSP with the UMD copy would work. He hadn't tried it, but he was fairly sure it would. I've had problems where I have a North American version of a game, and someone else had an Asian copy of it & they wouldn't connect via AD-HOC, so that's why I was concerned.

I asked him about the PSPgo's video out feature-- do PSP games output to a TV still show up with the black borders? Unfortunately yes.

Future Shop has the PSN game cards, which are redeemable for a digital copy of the game. I asked whether we pay GST/PST when we buy them from Future Shop, or if we have to pay at the PS Store, or what. He didn't know, but I'm betting we pay GST/PST at Future Shop (or whichever store you buy them from) then plug in the code to download it from the PS Store.

I asked about the Bluetooth remote dongle, which he knew nothing about. I suspect it might be a japan-only release.

I asked him about the memory stick micro-- M2-- how that's seen by the PSPgo: is it like my 32GB of dual microSD storage-- it's seen as one big memory stick on my PSP-- or do you have to switch between the onboard 16GB storage & any M2 expansion that's in the PSPgo? He didn't know.

I didn't get to actually hold the PSPgo, but oddly enough I did get to play a bit of Gran Turismo on it using a Dualshock 3 controller. I knew that the PSPgo's Bluetooth supported linking to a DS3, but you can also use the DS3 to control the game on the PSPgo.... it's weird. I asked about the specifics-- you *do* need a PS3 & USB connection to pair up the PSPgo with a Dualshock controller. But he mentioned that you could just bring a DS3 to a display PS3 & do it... not sure how that works, but I guess it is possible if you don't own a PS3 & just buy a DS3?

The PSPgo screen is smaller, but it still seems very usable. But this is all just a brief viewing & the "Wow!" factor is still in effect... I still have stars in my eyes over the thing.

I have to admit, I am *very* close to just buying a PSPgo from Future Shop, just to try it out & see if it's worth keeping. They have a 30 day return policy, so I'd have some time to put it through the motions.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

sometimes Sony does something right (wrong)

hehe.... I didn't take advantage of this, but there was an unexpected "bonus" when SCEA unleashed the spate of new PSP games, demos & videos on the PS Store today (Oct. 1, 2009).

Among the new releases was supposed to be a free demo for the game Undead Knights... only where you go to download the demo, they had the FULL game!

I noticed it when I looked at the preview info of the file. I downloaded the Japanese demo a few days ago... couldn't play it because it requires 5.51 firmware, and my PSP is on 5.03. But I know that the demo is about 100 MB. But when I saw the demo at the PS Store, it was about 500 MB. I thought, "Wha?? Why is a demo so big??"

Then I read on the PS forums how it was the full game. Gotta love Sony's unintended"goodwill program"... a free game on the PSPgo's release date! "Good for you", Sony! hehe. Was that Karma?

I guess we know why they normally only dribble releases out on the PS Store, because any more than 4 new games & they get too confused.

I'm sure Sony will make sure such "promotions" don't happen again.


haven't bought PSPgo...yet

Ok, from where I'm sitting, it's almost 5:30PM, and I've managed to go almost the entire day without buying a PSPgo. If I can only hold out a little longer.... it'll be easier after the first day.

There's no real rational reason I should buy it... but that doesn't stop me from WANTING it. Let's face it: I love PSP. I've always wanted a PSP that was smaller, because I originally bought my PSP primarily as an mp3 player.

I've been thinking a lot about the PSPgo: who is it meant for? It's not meant for previous PSP owners, as it has a smaller library of games. You'd think it'd be meant for new owners who've never owned a PSP.... but if someone was choosing between a PSPgo, and an iPod Touch, why would they get the PSPgo? iPod Touch has a much larger library of games & the prices are *waaaay* lower. iTunes is probably a better media manager than Media Go. Both devices feature Bluetooth (though you have to pay $10.00 for an iPod Touch firmware upgrade to enable it) and of course, the iPod Touch handles music playback/playlists much better.

Back in 2006 I chose the PSP over the iPod Nano (no Touch back then) because the PSP has drag & drop. You didn't have to use a proprietary software media manager to put files on it. I really appreciate that freedom.

But now in 2009, the PSPgo almost requires Media Go software. Sony is obviously trying to copy the iPod/iTunes integration.

Still, aside from buying games from the PS Store, I don't think even the PSPgo is entirely dependent on using Media Go to put media on it.

So I think I know who the PSPgo is for. It's for people who want a PSP, but are not all that into playing games. Maybe like me, they use their PSP for watching video & listening to music a lot, but only play games on it occasionally. It looks like Sony wants PSPgo owners to only have a small library of games, maybe 4 per system or something. They sure as hell don't want people buying too many!

So maybe the PSPgo is for me. I do want a smaller PSP. I like to play PSP games-- hell, I have 42 of them (on UMD) last I checked-- while sometimes I do marathon game-playing sessions that completely drain the battery, other times I go weeks between playing games on it.

Sony's marketing of the PSPgo is pretty perverse, because I can't imagine there are that many nutty people like me out there to count on selling the PSPgo to.


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