Gamasutra ran an article this week on people’s impressions on the PSP vs DS debate, six months on from the point both were available in the US. I was actually quite surprised by the response - I expected the majority to harp on about the PSP’s technical superiority and sleek looks, and how that made it better. But, it seems people can in fact see past the surface qualities. Even those preferring the PSP generally did so because they either liked the ‘bling’ factor, or because it was a ‘portable media centre’, not because it was a fun gaming machine.
The whole ‘portable media centre’ is in my view a dead end until things become significantly more advanced than they are today. The PSP isn’t a decent media solution, IMO - you can’t carry much music on it compared to any dedicated portable player (even the 1Gb memory stick option is tiny and way too expensive), and even then the system is way too chunky to be comfortably carried around. Watching films - well, I watch few films anyhow but watching them on the go, on a small screen, after either going through a laborious re-encoding process or re-purchasing them on UMD? Sounds like way too much of a pain in the arse to me, I certainly couldn’t be bothered.
The phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ springs to mind whenever I look at the PSP. It’s a game machine, but the games aren’t that great and it feels very much like a PS2 re-hash. It’s a portable MP3 player, but not a very good one. It plays movies, but it’s either expensive or a pain in the backside to get films on to it, and lets face it, the screen is small compared to portable DVD players. I can see immediately why people want it - those looks are so gorgeous and alluring; hell, even I wanted one until I actually played with it. But ultimately, if a device doesn’t do at least one fundamental thing better than anything else that’s available, hasn’t it failed, no matter how good it looks?