Handheld Addict

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Sony PlayStationSuite & XperiaPlay

It's kinda funny how most of the points of my previous rant post were shot down a day after I posted them... oh well, I've never claimed to know the mind of Sony-- quite the contrary, actually... and I'd be glad to be wrong about my pessimistic outlook of the new PlayStation Suite service (previously believed to be "PocketStation"), but honestly, I think I still stand by many of my points.

The Sony Japan press conference had quotes that PlayStation Suite, the service for Android smartphones, will have both PS1 and PSP games on it. But even now, sites like Engadget are admitting that there might be mistakes in translation. Yes, we are gonna see PS1 games on there... after all aren't there already (unofficial) PS1 emulators for Android.... but as to PSP games? I'd be surprised if there were. But if it happens, it'll be first-party games for the most part.

Sony PlayStation Suite is a good idea... but the implementation is where I think it could all go sideways. As a method of competing with Apple's iTunes music store, I remember Microsoft's "PlaysForSure" idea of trying to unify DRM for a variety of mp3 player devices. They had to be "certified" like how Sony is saying smartphones need to be for PlayStation Suite; PS branding, etc... but PlaysForSure was a pretty dismal failure, a lot of the so-called "certified" devices didn't play Microsofts protected online-store bought WMA files properly, despite having the PlaysForSure branding stamped on their boxes & instruction manuals. Sony PlayStation Suite has standards of Android 2.3 & hardware requirements, so who knows how many actual phones will support it properly.

I've got a Gameboy Advance emulator on my HTC Legend and there are very few games I find really playable on it, the onscreen D-pad & buttons just aren't good enough. I can't imagine playing PS1 games on a touchscreen would be all that fun.

But maybe this is where the XperiaPlay swoops in. With its dedicated PS controller buttons, it would seem a perfect fit for the Sony PlayStation Suite store. While I like the idea of physical buttons to control games like PS1 or GBA games, I just think the non-PS buttons on the XperiaPlay look SUPER UGLY. I hate them... they're so narrow & look uncomfortable, even the shoulder buttons. And that's a volume rocker in the middle???? Ugh. Can you imagine?

I dunno, these Sony phones look so ugly..... but also, I'd much rather have a phone with a physical keyboard that either has a dedicated D-pad (on the left side of it) or programmable keys rather than a slide-out phone that *ONLY* has PS controller buttons. That's one of the things I dislike about my HTC Legend, the Android 2.1 onscreen keyboard is quite sucky.

But back to the PlayStation Suite.... it's a good idea in concept, but like most Sony Computer Entertainment products, I'm sure it will only deliver on part of what it promises. And XperiaPlay looks like it should be the linchpin device for this service (on the smartphone end, the NGP should handle the dedicated gaming handheld end) but Sony's comments have been very weird about it; they're all like, "well [the XperiaPlay] is Sony Ericsson's division-- we don't want to talk about it or have anything to do with it".... so we'll have to see if Sony Ericsson gets any support from Sony Computer Entertainment on this.

The bottom line is that, unlike a "new PSP" or such device, a new PHONE is a hugely expensive proposition. New Sony Ericsson phones run like $650.00 or something.... do we really want to pay that much just to have PS controller buttons on our phone? Not to mention most people are locked into cell phone contracts that include the phone. With prices of new smartphones running $600.00-$800.00, people are griping about the potential price of the NGP?

Engadget's got a great gallery of XperiaPlay here.


Thursday, January 27, 2011


Engadget's got a rundown on the NGP here.

Oh man, a lot of news lately. I was glued to Engadget's liveblog at 10:00pm last night & would've posted about it but my netbook battery was low....

So the PSP2 has finally been revealed! And at first look it looks like.... the previous PSP. But a closer look reveals many small differences.

2 SKUs - one with WI-FI only, a 3G model available (All Japanese NGPs will be 3G) - I shudder to think of the 3G purchase price here in Canada.... I'm sure it will only be available with a 3 year contract through Rogers, Bell, or Telus...... *sigh*. So unless you want to pay $2000.00 over 3 years for a NGP, the WI-FI only version will probably be the only viable option (I hope I'm mistaken but I've recently learned too much about the awful cellphone companies here in Canada to be optimistic)

Games will run on "new media" a.k.a cartridges - though I'm sure there'll be download games too (At this time I haven't heard/seen what kinda flash storage NGP will use, memory stick or SD?)

Specs include a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, 5-inch touchscreen OLED display with 960 x 544 resolution, dual analog sticks (not nubs as on the current generation), 3G, WiFi, GPS, a rear-mounted touchpad, the same accelerometer / gyroscope motion sensing as in the PlayStation Move, an electronic compass, and cameras on both the front and back.

rear touchpad:

Price hasn't been announced, but Sony says NGP will be available-- this year??? Awesome!

The bottom of NGP seems to show (yet another) proprietary USB/media port, a headphone jack & maybe a memory stick door?

The top of NGP shows power button & iPhone-style volume buttons. No hold switch??

I have to say, when you look at the comparison photo of the NGPs with the PSP-3000, the NGP looks huge. It's very chunky. I knew that Sony wanted to go bigger with the PSP 2, but it seems like portability is taking a back seat in design.... also the overall design looking exactly like the previous PSP. It just seems to me that Sony Computer Entertainment from the years 2007-present don't have any innovative design staff left. Whoever came up with the original PSP design deserves kudos; it was a slick little package that carried the Sony legacy of high-class electronic products. But since then, all we've seen are recycled designs from that era: the Sony Mylo design recycled as the PSPgo. And now the 2005 PSP design recycled in 2011. Some might see this as a case of "if it ain't broke..." and I might even agree with that to some extent. It's just very conservative.

But overall, the NGP is getting me very excited. We don't know much about it right now, hopefully we'll get a clearer picture of the overall video/media support & more specs soon.

GameSpot video comparing it to a PSPgo:


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PSPphone (XperiaPlay) preview on Engadget

Engadget got their hands on Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play-- a.k.a. the Playstation Phone-- check out their preview with video here.

It's ridiculous how much this device has been leaked all while Sony continues to deny, deny, deny.... at this point they almost have nothing left to reveal. Ok, that's hyperbole; there's still plenty to reveal, I'm sure.

What gets me is all the people who are excited for this thing. I don't understand what they think a Playstation branded phone will get them?

Let's look at the history: Sony Computer Entertainment releases a download-only PSP, the PSPgo. They promise that a big part of the UMD library will migrate to the Playstation Store. It doesn't.

Flash forward to the present: Playstation phone is revealed. We have no idea what games will be available, but it's running Android so we all assume that there will be a special Android Playstation section. Actually, if you watch the vid at the Engadget article it looks like Pocketstation will be the store interface that supplies the games for this device.

My question is this: why would anyone in their right mind think that many PSP games will be available on Xperia Play when they aren't even available on the friggin' PSPgo????? Seriously, what is wrong with these people that they can't even see that????

The PSPgo fragmented the PSP library-- it only allows PSPgo owners to play a small portion of that library. A new PSP Phone will fragment that even further: an even *smaller* portion of games may be playable on it. I SERIOUSLY DOUBT that any regular PSP games would be available (officially-- maybe someone will hack it with emulators)... maybe PSP Minis will be compatible but I kinda doubt that too.

So PSP phone owners will have to hope that devs come up with new games to fill up the "Pocketstation Store"... games that can only be playable on a PSP phone... now, WHY would a developer want to do that when they could work on games that could be playable on most Android devices? Why would they want to limit their market? The same reason they develop games only playable on PSPgo-- THEY DON'T.

Granted, now that I'm using a touchscreen phone device... while the capacitive touchscreen is really nice... virtual onscreen D-pad & buttons are a poor substitute for actual physical ones. Having a D-pad & face buttons on the Xperia Play would probably make a lot of currently available Android games more fun, like Zenonia. I can see why people might be excited about that. But the slider "dual analogue sticks"... while that's an intriguing idea, what are those gonna be used for? Unless some current Android games can be programmed to use those, as cool as they might be, we have to hope that the Pocketstation will supply games that will use them, and good games at that? That's a LOT to hope for.


Nintendo 3DS preorders

(at the time of this writing 1/26/2011) Canadian 3DS preorders are available from Future Shop, Best Buy, Amazon.ca, & GameStop/EB Games.

I preordered the Cosmo Black 3DS from Future Shop.... but I've decided I want the Aqua Blue one, so I just preordered that one from Best Buy! $250.00 + $30.00 HST.... yikes. $560.00 for two 3DS consoles.... too much for me. I'm planning to cancel the black order, but I don't want to cancel & find out the blue one doesn't come for whatever reason. I'd rather have a black one than none at all...

Either I'm getting one 3DS, or maybe 1 extra to sell on eBay for big $$$$..... or... my nephew is gonna be one lucky kid come this April....


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Handheld Addict update

Ok... it's been a long time since I updated. Man, I don't know why I haven't posted in this blog for a long time, because I have had a lot of "techy" things happening in my life.

August 2010 - I actually bought a new TV! Sure, a 52" edge-lit Sony LED TV doesn't exactly qualify as "handheld" but it actually has a LOT of relevance because the interaction between it and my PSPs, netbook, & of course home gaming consoles is very important.

But.... I *RETURNED* the TV to Future Shop 30 days after I bought it.... I dunno. I liked it, but I didn't love it..... if my current old TV dies, then I'd be happy to upgrade to a flatscreen. But in the meantime, I don't want to subscribe to HD channels & these new TVs don't play standard-def TV especially well. I should have done an entire post about the Sony EX-703 TV, but in a nutshell that's it.

And there's been tons of developments in the PSP world. I've been trying to keep up with all the rumours & leaks of the PSP phone, and the PSP 2. It's all but been announced for the phone, and in a few days we may hear something official about the PSP 2, ummm... too.

Speaking of phones, I must admit, I've turned to the DARK SIDE. Yes, I now have a mobile phone. I don't know why I consider this to be such a sellout because chances are, YOU who's reading this right now, has a cellphone. It may be a smartphone, could just be a regular cellphone, but you do have one, right? For me, it all started last summer: stuff happened & I needed to have a cellphone in case of emergency-- like if I got stranded at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. So I borrowed my dad's cellphone. By December I realized that I should just get my own, plus it happened that 7-11 had a great pay as you go deal. So I bought a nice HTC Legend Android 2.1 phone off of eBay, bought an unlock code (it was locked to Bell) and am now using it on prepaid service. It's a pretty awesome little device, which I will post more about later.

Then there's the Nintendo 3DS... having a firm release date & it's not that far off has really got me excited. I've put in a preorder for the black one, but I honestly cannot decide between the black or the blue. I'm thinking of cancelling my preorder for the black & changing it to the blue.

So I'm still here, still addicted to handhelds & gadgets in general.