In-depth PSPGo Review
- Dimensions (wxhxd): 128x16.5x69mm (without case), 130x18x71mm (with CM4 case)
- Weight: 158g (with case is much the same)
- Colours: White & Black typically and other various special edition colours
- Capacities 16gb internal + M2 Memory Stick Micro (up to 16gb) , so 32gb max
- Display TFT 3.8" (16:9) 480x272
- Battery Life: 3-6hrs depending on task and whether wifi and bluetooth is enabled, brightness levels etc.
- Audio: MP3, WMA, ATRAC3, ATRAC3plus, MP4, WAVE,
- Video: MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC), H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Main Profile (AAC), MPEG-4, MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC), H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Main Profile (CABAC) (AAC), AVI
- Other File Support: JPG, TIFF, BMP, GIF, PNG
- Features: Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, Microphone, Speakers, Wifi (IEEE 802.11b), Analogue Video Out, Pause Gaming
- Controls: Tactile Buttons
For xmas i treated myself to a new gadget, I bought the 'bombed' PSPgo.
Apparently the PSPgo has been selling rather poorly in 2010. I recall this time last year the price tag was around the $450-500AUD margin, now its selling for $200AUD with 10 free games included (major titles such as GT5, LittleBigPlanet, FIFA 2010 etc to name a few).
Selling my old PSP3000 for $100 (which also had an annoying dead pixel) meant that I essentially upgraded my PSP system for $100. That $100 got me a smaller, lighter more compact PSP system, 16gb internal memory, 10 new games, bluetooth but everything else was much the same...
...or was it.
Having owned a psp already I knew what i was getting myself into. I already liked the psp for gaming but NEVER felt it was truly portable. For me portability means COMFORTABLY POCKETABLE and the PSP3000 wasn't for me. In addition to the physical bulk of the device the owner was often required to shepard further accessories around such as UMD discs (the actual game discs).
Pspgo breaks away from the physical disc format in favour of digital content only, this means no more carrying around UMD discs, instead the games are stored on the 16gb internal memory or a teeny tiny m2 memory card (up to 16gb max).
In the past when i found myself out and about I never took the psp3000, instead I opted for a better music playing device such as the sansaclip+ or for those extended periods away from home my eeepc, the psp3000 rarely left the home.
Well this review isn't about the psp3000, it's about the go. I'm gonna review the PSPgo with a focus on its PMP features rather than its gaming side, hopefully giving interested readers a good overall idea of what the device is like and capable of as a PMP/gaming device.
The biggest noticeable thing that struck me when unboxing the pspgo is how well they have reduced its size compared to its predecessor. With the UMD drive now gone and a more clever sleeker design this thing weighs alot less, looks better and is truly pocketable. This for me is CRUCIAL, otherwise I don't see the point in owning a portable gaming device. I'm not going to play this in my house, i have far better entertainment systems kicking around. I wanted this for out and about, train journeys, plane flights etc. but also adhering to my portablility criteria being that it is COMFORTABLY POCKETABLE and lightish.
I'll just add it here that some might argue that the psp3000 is pocketable, that they have large pockets, they dont use a case with it, they have no UMD discs and also use thedigital format etc. Well having owned both I can honestly say that the pspgo is omething that WOULD leave the house but I never did with the 3000 and i owned just one UMD game that was housed within the console itself. The psp3000 needs a big pocket and even then its gonna be uncomfortable and tight, and noticeably heavy. The PSPgo is none of these things, its light, slips in pockets easy (even with its case on which i will get to later). One is portable the other is not, it's that simple.
To my mind I have no idea why the PSPgo has bombed in sales, its form factor is perfect. At the time it was released $450ish, that seems quite pricey but remember it did come with 16gb internal memory. The PSP3000 was $300 at the time of the pspgo's release and most aussie retailers were selling 16gb cards around the region of $100 bringing it to a grand ol' price of around $400. So new buyers (not upgrading) were really getting all the advantages of the go for only $50 more which i thought was fair, but anyway...
How does it handle now that it is smaller and perhaps as some see it more cramped?
Well I prefer its 'crampedness'. I reach the buttons quicker and faster than with the 3000 with the exception of the volume buttons, eq button, and brightness button located at the top. This doesnt bother me much as volume is always set to maximum, brightness highest and I really don't use eq that much.
I love how when watching a movie on it u can hide away the control pads to leave it in a more compact fit. The sliding controls work and has a nice feel when it slides back and forth. It's also nice that you can select that when u slide it closed it switches off (or sleeps) as opposed for reaching for the power button. Sliding wakes it up as well.
The new design is a winner for me, definately gets an A+. A little thinner wouldn't have harmed as when u do add a protective case it does gain sum thickness, but that is my real only complaint.
The other obvious difference between the 3000 and the go is the screen size and quality.
The 3000 has a 480x272 resolution housed in a 4.3 inch screen. The Go has a 3.8 inch screen with the same 480x272 resolution. I see a noticeable difference in screen quality. The psp3000 (slim and lite by the way) was supposed to be the best screen on the phat (1000 and 2000) psp systems to date, however I could still see these horizontal 'lines' across the screen, it's a little like looking closeup to an old crt tv in that u can see the 'gaps' between the pixels and that they are most noticeable along the horizontal pattern/spectrum.
The pspgo seems to not suffer the same fate or if it does i haven't noticed it. The screen is as bright as the 3000 and due to carrying a higher pixel to inch ratio looks crisper, cleaner and sharper.
The go for me wins on the screen, although slightly smaller it looks and performs better and I don't miss that half an inch inch more screen real estate.
I tried converting a few comic files to jpgs and viewing them on the pspgo photo viewer, to my surprise despite the smaller screen i could read the text in the bubbles clearer on the go than on the 4.3 inch 3000 screen. I'm not saying that the PSPgo is a great comic reader (they do have their own offical comic reader application which pans around nicely) but its not awful. - I'm not interested in the comic application tho, the comics are too pricey. I checked one 'saga' that I already owned vs what I would pay if I bought it on the pspgo. Well for starters their 'sagas' arn't complete, for about 20% of that saga they wanted $25USD from me. Just too much for my liking.
I understand by todays standards a 3.7 inch screen 480x272 is dated. It's not AMOLED or Super Duper AMOLEd but I have never seen the screen of a Cowon J3 to compare it to so can't really comment further. To my ignorant eyes it looks just fine.
To sum it up the screen gets another A+ as well. Despite its smaller real estate it makes up for it in every regard.
For the sake of this review I'm not going to talk about Custom Firmware (CFW), that is hackable firmware to run on the pspgo. I'm not even sure there is a stable CFW release for the pspgo, I'm just going to talk about the default Sony firmware its running (latest up to date of course). From my little understanding of CFW it has its pros and cons, the PSP system can't be updated and therefore take advantage of new additions and access certain features such as remote play etc, however it does allow for third party programs, emulators and a heap of other neat stuff. I'm happy to be corrected about this so feel free to butt in anytime.
I have a love/hate relationship with sony. Right now the hardware the pspgo is running is old tech compared to whats on the scene today. I expect in 2011 with the release of the psphone and the PSP2 that again the hardware will be improved, but i'm not holding my breath for a better firmware experience.
This (and it's the same with the PS3) is where Sony fails miserably. Essentially the PSPgo could have been the ULTIMATE PMP (in its time) (and the PS3 the ultimate entertainment system)!
Imagine if you please for one second that the go has;
a) a pdf/.txt file reader, thus allowing u to read ebooks, manuals, txt files or whatever, as well of course making notes.
d) Sound Quality reproduced to the same standard their Sony Walkman range produce
e) support for more music file formats
f) Proper ID3 browsing, better playlist support, dynamic playlist support, a navigation experience the same as the walkman range for browsing music and not restricted to its pathetic group/folder format
h) customizable eq as well as more presets
i) and all the other things most PMP's/music players do today
But does it have these things? No. Is it capable? Most definately Yes.
On the other hand there are some firmware features that are excellent. The UI itself is very good. In an age where touch screens seem to rule, navigation done by the pspgo is done via tactile buttons. Sony have thought this one through well and intergrate a cross bar style to get around. It works really well. As you can imagine with a device like the PSPgo there are a heap of options to tick on and off in the system menu etc. I would argue that getting from A to B using tactile buttons in a well thought out manner is FASTER than any touch screen interface when you consider the non registered touches, the mistakes of tapping the wrong area and finally the wiping off finger prints (i'm not a fan of touch screens in case you can tell).
Another nice function is its Remote Play feature allowing you to access your PS3 and use certain features such as Play TV and watch TV on the pspgo via PS3. This works really well and the quality is acceptable, it's not gimmicky, its actually a good feature that I've used a fair bit in bed, toilet time or whereever lol.
But overall the firmware is bad, its spoiling sony from unleashing its full potential, and it really doesnt seem to be hardware thats causing the problems, new pointless features are released all the time when they should really be focusing on fixing the basics. This will never happen though. Sony doesn't listen to or take into consideration any forum suggestions to improve its user experience and never will. Problems that existed from day one are still here today, 4 yrs later (or whenever the phat 1000 was released). Sure NEW things have been added, but the new things haven't solved the problems of the old things.
So the PSPgo gets big bad - sign on this area.
I don't really care for viewing photos on a PMP in general. To me the amount of times you'd show someone an interesting pic here or there would be quite a rare occurance. Now if the device actually had a camera built in then that of course is a different matter.
However having said that the photo viewer on the PSPgo works ok. Various buttons allow you to zoom, rotate image, change display mode, flick to next pic as well as giving a slideshow mode.
I was particularly interested in how the photo viewer would handle my comic pics. As said above I wasn't totally dissapointed with the results, but it did take a couple of seconds to push through that last 'focusing' effort of the file/pic to make it properly viewable. Initially the picture is blurry, then once you have settled on an area i.e. not moving around through the zoom feature, it focuses so you can appreciate the finer details. After awhile this becomes annoying.
I recall the psp3000 doing the same thing but taking an extra second making it more like 2-3 seconds. I concluded that as my pics were on the actual 16gb internal memory it was loading/focusing faster than when my pics were on the duo memory stick in the psp3000.
And lastly it has a very perculiar manner of sorting files in the group folder. I threw a few pics taking from my camera with the default file name (IMG_1234, IMG_ 1235, IMG_1236 etc) and to my surprise their is no way to sort those files into chronological, date or size order. It was random. Very bizarre and very annoying! Eventually just to have 15 pictures flowing in the right order I had to first copy them onto my ps3, then create a playlist of those files and order them the way I want them, save the playlist again and then copy it to my pspgo. What a complete flaff about when drag and drop via pc connection couldnt do it. Weird.
Have to give a - to the photoviewer again for lack of features and annoyances!
Now this area is plagued with issues.
I'm going to make this simple, I did write up a LONG detailed list of its complete and utter stupidity its failings and bizarreness that i have never seen before on a music player but I won't divulge those ramblings. Why? Because as I stare at this rant I made I am shaking my head in disbelief and realising it takes first hand experience to TRULY grasp how impressively pathetic it is. It made my own ramblings confusing and hard to comprehend. Mp3 players of the early 90's did it better, I kid u not. Trust me, I am doing you all a BUG favour by saying it is just B A D
MUSIC gets a big fat -
I havn't had many mp3 players in the region of 4 inch screens to really compare how the PSPgo and PSP3000 does. I feel that although a slightly smaller screen than the 3000 the quality is higher than the 3000 (as said above). I did own a cowon O2 for a short while and before i managed to brick it and send it back for a refund I did have the opportunity to test its video capability out. Well the PSPgo beats the o2 HANDS DOWN on video playback. The screen itself is not overly reflective or glossy (like the O2) which makes viewing content in daytime ok whereas I recall the O2 practically impossible to watch anything in daytime.
One of the nice features of the go's video playback is its search/scene mode function, I wish all players had this way of searching. By pressing one button you are presented with a row of tiny thumbnails of the scenes of the content yer viewing. U can then change the intervals of the thumbnail previews from 1min up to 15mins, the thumbnails thereby change with the time increments. If you keep a single thumbnail highlighted it starts playing the file from within the thumbnail thus giving you more information of whats happening in that scene. It's really neat and works very well. Of course there is simple fast forward, pause and rewind features but I have always felt this navigation system that sony came up with works very well and trumps touch screen control anyday of the week.
Sound quality for film playback is similar to audio play back so just okish, you get access to the same eq presets that the music player gives.
Overall I think it works really well, I really have little negative to say about the video player. Sure i would love a little more volume, more file support and a proper eq, but its interface more than makes up for it.
I give the video player a +
There is a browser, but no flash I believe, don't expect to be watching you tube on it. I had trouble even getting gmail to work. It has 54g wireless capability so its quite slow.
There is Skype installed and it works well, maybe they should implement a similar application like facebook etc so it works properly too instead of getting a rubbishy poor internet browser version.
Remote Play is cool. This allows you to control the Ps3 System should you have one and therefore watch TV on the device should the PS3 have Play TV. Alot of 'ifs' but it is a nice feature.
There is Internet Radio yet I haven't tried this feature out, i'm not much of a radio person.
Bluetooth. This is a nice addition allowing for streaming of music to some bluetooth device such as speakers or headphones. I have not yet tested as to whether it can be used for file transferring.
I wanted to protect my pspgo (like i did my PSP3000). After using a generic leather case for the PSP3000 I wanted to try a different sort of protection and so went down the route of purchasing some neat 'body armour' in the form of CM4s protective case http://www.cm4.com/shop/p-3-psp-go-c...ny-psp-go.aspx. I looked into various other companies that did the same sort of thing but in the end the reviews for the CM4 seemed to be best and I can see why. To put simply this is the best protection idea/case I have ever come across. What we want in a case is something that will protect the device from scratches, dents and scrapes, but at the same time still allow us to use the device comfortably. I detest the idea of having a case where to use the device effectively you have to remove it from its protective housing (and thereby exposing it to potential falls/mishaps) and also drag us down with yet another secondary 'thing' to hold onto/look after.
The CM4 feels great, adds minimal bulk to the device and keeps its portability a priority. Just follow the link to get an idea of how it works.
My only critism is the price. $19.99 is a fair price, but $30 for international shipping? Are you kidding? This thing arrived as a parcel (full of unneccessary huge amounts of bubble wrap) when could be sent as a letter or at most a dvd sized parcel thereby saving on postage.
Second critism is that they provide only ONE screen protector. Everyone knows you stuff up on the first one, a second one is needed to learn from the mistakes! Although their website gives you a neat video on how to apply a screen protector in reality a screen isn't applied that successfully, even in their video 'air bubbles' are apparent. Except they're not air bubbles, their dust particles and no amount of prying with finger nails will remove it.
I had to troll forums with advice on how to apply screen protectors successfully, the best method i found was that after you clean your screen as thoroughly as u can, use sticky tape to help pick up any remainding dust particles left behind as you apply the protector. I saw perhaps only 1 dust particle after i cleaned the screen, but by the time I had gotten ready (a few seconds only) to apply the screen 2-3 more dust particles made their way onto the screen. You DEFINATELY need sum type of sticky tape device to slide in between the screen and protector to remove those troublesum dust particles or otherwise the screen protector sits ontop of the dust creating a large air bubble around it like a circus tent, which cannot be removed.
1) lightish, great form factor, truly pocketable (unlike the PSP3000)
2) Fantastic cost/price value (especially at the moment with the 10 free games offer)
3) Great Screen (although not as good as today's latest AMOLED etc and higher res devices).
4) Plays Video's well (and of course games). Video Navigation is best I have seen, fast, efficient and no need to wipe the screen clean from smudgy finger prints)
6) Remote Play
7) CM4 case, perfect companion to the pspgo, every device should have their own version of a CM4 case
1) Bad Sony Firmware/Software (lack of additional features that would really unleash its potential)
2) Bad Music Player/Intergration, in reality pretty unusable yet its a main feature of the player, go figure.
3) No removable battery (yet i think its important to remember that by the time its battery is performing poorly a more advanced psp model will be available and more than likely you will want to upgrade rather than stay with the pspgo).
4) Poorish battery life, really on a device this size we're accustomed to something lasting a little longer than 3-6hrs.
5) Ok photo viewer, ruined by its featureless sorting modes and awkward management (pretty much need a PS3 or Media Go installed to organise content)
So where does that leave the PSPgo? Whose it for? Well obviously its targetted at the gaming community. I specifically left out talking about the game side of the device, that (for me) was a given. I have played several titles on the psp, beat'em ups, driving games, puzzle games, they are all fantastic to play on, but i wanted to share my thoughts on its other selling points.
For me the device misses the mark at being quite possible the ULTIMATE portable PMP device ever to be developed. EVERYTHING thats either wrong or lacking with the PSPgo is treatable with firmware releases.
As it stands I'd buy it for the gaming and video features but that's it. Look elsewhere for a music player. If music and video are your focus get a cowon J3.
For me i'm happy to use my rock boxed sansaclip+/fuze for my musical needs (after all its so small its hardly noticeable!) and use my pspgo for gaming and video pleasure.
But... if it were to get the same tools as other pmp's like notepad, txt reader, stopwatch, calculator etc, then give it proper id3 browsing and we're almost set to a fantastic all-in-one device! But it'll never happen, Sony are not cowon or Sandisk, they don't listen to their customers requests or feedback.
I write this just as the PSPhone and PSP2 have been previewed. Both interesting devices. The PSP2 is looking like a powerful portable ps3 device whereas the PSPhone is looking like a hybrid smartphone-come-pspgo, but i'm not holding my breath, why? Cuz they are made by Sony
EDIT: I have yet to receive my 10 free games included in the promotion Sony have been running. Their promotion is ONLY available to brand new purchased PSPGo's. I bought mine from a legitamate Australian seller but Sony are refusing to honor the agreement. Why? Because they claim the PSPGo I have purchased is second hand. They say it has been switched on, configured for wifi, connected to the the playstation network under a different account than mine at a date prior to my ownership (yet won't divulge any specifics of this due to breaching privacy law). I have submitted proof of purchase via fax (as they were not recieving my attachments in emails) hmmm... am still awaiting their final decision. Very dodgy stuff indeed, it means i'm missing out on $320 worth of value. Either Sony lies, their computer systems are mistaken or a very reputable online Australian vendor has been selling brand new PSPGo's (with the 10 free game pitch) when infact they are second hand. The device looked brand new to me. Sony.... Fony
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