PlayStation Portable - PSP
The PlayStation Portable (officially abbreviated PSP) is a handheld game console released and manufactured by Sony Computer Entertainment. Its development was first announced during E3 2003, and it was officially unveiled on May 11, 2004 at a Sony press conference before E3 2004. The system was released in Japan on December 12, 2004, North America on March 24, 2005 and in the PAL region on September 1, 2005. It is the first handheld video game system to use an optical disc format (Universal Media Disc).
A new slimmer and lighter version of the PSP, appropriately titled Slim and Lite, was announced on July 11, 2007, during Sony's press conference at E3 2007. It was made available in the US, Europe and Japan in September 2007 with various colours and a very different box packaging to the original PSP. Among these versions, three were physically shown at E3 2007: a white version with a Star Wars imprint, a piano black version and an ice silver version.
- 1 Design and specifications
- 2 Variations and accessories
- 3 Games
- 4 Multimedia playback
- 5 Wireless networking
- 6 PSP Slim & Lite
- 7 System Software
- 8 Homebrew development
- 9 PlayStation Store (PC)
- 10 Controversial advertising campaigns
Design and specifications
The PSP was designed by Shin'ichi Ogasawara (小笠原伸一) for the Sony Computer Entertainment subsidiary of Sony Corporation. Early models were made in Japan but in order to cut costs, Sony has farmed out PSP production to non-Japanese manufacturers, mainly in China. The unit measures 170 mm (6.7inches) in length, 74 mm (2.9 inches) in width, and 23mm (The PSP's main microprocessor is a multifunction device named "Allegrex" that includes a 32-bit MIPS architecture|MIPS32 R4k-based Central processing unit|CPU, a Floating Point Unit (COP1), and a Vector Floating Point Unit (COP2). Additionally, there is a processor block known as "Media Engine" that contains another 32-bit MIPS32 R4k-base CPU, hardware for multimedia decoding (such as H.264), and a programmable DSP dubbed "Virtual Mobile Engine". The secondary CPU present in the Media Engine is functionally equivalent to the primary CPU save for a lack of a VPU. The MIPS CPU cores are globally clocked between 1 and 333 Megahertz (MHz). During the 2005 Game Developers Conference, Sony revealed that it had capped the PSP's CPU clock speed at 222 MHz for licensed software. Its reasons for doing so are unknown, but are the subject of some speculation. Various homebrew tools enable users to operate at 333 MHz, generally leading to a higher frame rate at the expense of battery life. On June 22, 2007, Sony Computer Entertainment confirmed that the firmware version 3.50 does in fact remove this restriction and allows future games to run at the full 333 MHz speed. It does not affect already-released games.
The system has 32 Megabyte main Random access memory (RAM) and 4 MB embedded DRAM. The 4 MB of eDRAM consists of 2MB dedicated to the Graphics Engine (GE) and 2MB dedicated to the Media Engine secondary processor. There is no memory management unit for either CPU. No evidence of a translation lookaside buffer has been found. The co processor that normally manages the TLB-based Memory management unit seems to be a custom effort by Sony and has no integrated memory. Both CPUs contain 16KB of two-way set associative instruction cache and data cache respectively. There is additionally 16KB of scratchpad RAM which, while faster than main RAM, is not nearly as fast as the integrated cache.
The 166 MHz Graphics Engine has 2 MB embedded memory and through its 512 bit interface provides hardware polygon and NURBS rendering, hardware directional lighting, Clipping (computer graphics), environment projection and texture mapping, texture compression and tessellation, distance fog|fogging, alpha blending, depth and stencil tests, vertex blending for morphing effects, and dithering, all in 16 or 24 bit color. The graphics chip also handles image output. Specifications state that the PSP is capable of rendering 33 million flat-shaded polygons per second, with a 664 million pixel per second fill rate.
The PSP uses a drive compatible with Sony's proprietary Universal Media Disc (UMD) format. Use of the drive increases battery drain by approximately 10% and the system has been criticized for having very slow data transfer speeds, translating into load times of more than 2 minutes in total for some games. However this has been improved with the redesigned PSP Slim as it now has a longer battery life and faster loading times.
Despite its movie and music playback capabilities, the PSP has primarily gaming-oriented controls (as opposed to the controls typical to television remotes or MP3-players): two shoulder buttons (L and R), the PlayStation face buttons Triangle, Circle, X, Square, start and select buttons, a digital 4-directional pad, and an analog 'nub' which is slid rather than tilted. There is also a row of secondary controls along the underside of the screen, for controlling volume, music settings (either switching the audio off and on in games or selecting different graphic equalizer presets), screen brightness, and a "Home" button for accessing the system's main menu. Pressing the Home button while doing anything except playing a game will bring up the XMB, which theoretically allows for multitasking; however whatever the user was doing is cancelled upon accessing anything else.
PSP's default battery life varies widely depending on application from less than 3 hours while accessing a wireless network and having screen brightness on its highest setting to more than 11 hours during MP3 playback with the screen turned off. An extended-life 2200 Ampere-hour battery will increase this by approximately 20%. A sleep mode is also available that uses minimal battery power to keep the system's RAM active, allowing for "instant on" functionality. A system in sleep mode (with a fully-charged battery) has been shown to lose an average of only 1% battery life per 24-hour period.
At E3 2007, new information about the "PSP Slim" was released, including news that the new PSP will have improved battery life. This new PSP will use a thinner battery, its standard having a capacity of 2200 Ampere-hour vs 1800 of the original PSP. However, that information turned out to be false, as the new PSP, now known as the PSP Slim & Lite, actually uses a smaller capacity battery at 1200 Ampere-hour, the PSP Slim & Lite has the same battery life as the original console, due to the lower power consumption. Original batteries will be compatible with this new PSP, however, the battery cover will not be able to fit over the battery but Sony is reportedly working on a workaround.
The PSP's main menu interface is the "XrossMediaBar" (XMB) used by recent Sony TVs, the PSX (DVR) hardware, and the PlayStation 3. It consists of a horizontal sequence of icons, in this case Settings, Photo, Music, Video, Game, and Network, which show a vertical sequence of sub-icons when highlighted.
The XMB allows the user to adjust settings, connect the device to a PC (via USB), connect to and browse the Internet, and play video, audio, and games. The XMB may be accessed at any time by pressing the Home button, but the PSP must exit the currently running application due to RAM|memory limitations.
The PSP's default background color changes depending on the current month of the year. The user may also manually set the color or specify a background image from a connected Memory Stick (with firmware version 2.00+). Firmware 3.70 and higher include the Custom Theme feature, which lets a user change everything in the interface (Icons, Background). Currently, there are 13 official themes: Lemmings, Wipeout, "Cookies," "Pink," six different themes based on the game Pursuit Force, and three themes based on the game Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow.
Variations and accessories
In Japan a base unit package or Core Pack was available at launch and was later released in North America and Europe. The Core Pack (or Base Pack in Australia) contains the console, a battery, and an AC adapter. The Core Pack retails for United States dollar|US$169.99, Hong Kong Dollar|HK$1360, Canadian dollar|CDN$199.99, Euro|EU€169.99, Australian dollar|AU$279.99 and Pound sterling|GB£129.99.
The Value Pack contains everything the core does, as well as a 32 Megabyte|MB Memory Stick Pro Duo, earphones with remote control, a slip-case, a wrist strap, and a Sampler Disc (in some territories). The Value Pack retails for USD $219, CDN $249.99, GBP £150.99, Japanese yen|JPY ¥26,040, Hong Kong Dollar|HKD $1660, Singapore dollar|SGD $335.00, EUR €209, AUD $349.95 and New Zealand dollar|NZD $429.00. In some areas, the Value Pack has been superseded by the Entertainment Pack, containing the items of the Core Pack plus a copy of ATV Offroad Fury|ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails, the UMD movie Lords of Dogtown, and a 1 GB Memory Stick Pro Duo. The Giga Pack is similar to the value pack, except that the Memory Stick Pro Duo is upped to 1 GB; it also includes a USB Cable and stand. It retails for JPY ¥29,800, USD $299, CDN $349, and GBP £214. The Giga Pack is still available in all territories except North America, as the deal was based on a special offer that ended after the 2005 holiday season. Various other packages also exist.
Optional accessories offered by Sony include the PSP headset, carrying case, extended-life 2200 Ampere-hour|mAh battery, headphones with remote control, battery charger, car adapter, accessories pouch and cleaning cloth, AC adapter, and system pouch and wrist strap.
The PSP is currently available in eight colors. They are in piano black, ceramic white, pink, metallic blue, silver, champagne gold, "The Simpsons" yellow and deep red. The ceramic white variation is available in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, while the pink variation is available only in Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. The silver and metallic blue variations were released on 14 December 2006 and 21 December 2006 respectively in Japan and Hong Kong exclusively. Metallic Silver and Gold colors are due out later this year in Europe. A "champagne gold" colored PSP was released in Japan and Hong Kong on 22 February 2007. The PSP was available in a camouflage livery in the MGS:PO special packaging on October 30 2006. Deep Red was released in Japan on December 13, 2007.
On the base of the PSP is the model number of the unit. This number indicates the intended region the unit was designed for. These model numbers are as follows:
- PSP1000/PSP2000 - Japan
- PSP1001/PSP2001 - USA
- PSP1002/PSP2002 - Australia
- PSP1003/PSP2003 - United Kingdom
- PSP1004/PSP2004 - Europe, Middle East,India and Africa
- PSP1005/PSP2005 - Korea
- PSP1006/PSP2006 - Hong Kong, Singapore
- PSP1007/PSP2007 - Taiwan
- PSP1008/PSP2008 - Russia
- PSP1009/PSP2009 - China
- PSP1010/PSP2010 - Mexico
PSP Special Editions
- Signature Model 000001 Tsukimi "Fat PSP w/ engrave" - August 17, 2006
- Signature Model 000002 Kachofugetsu "Fat PSP w/ engrave" - August 17, 2006
- Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops "Fat PSP w/ Camouflage engrave" - December 22, 2006
- Final Fantasy VII crisis "Ice Silver Slim w/ engrave" Limited Edition - September 13, 2007
- Star Ocean "Felicia Blue Slim w/ engrave" Limited edition Bundle - December 27, 2007
- Gundam Limited edition "Slim Red Glossy/ Black matte surface with black buttons w/ engrave" - February 7, 2008
- Monster Hunter portable "gold psp slim with silkscreen w/ UMD case, matching pouch and matching strap" March 27, 2008
- Star Wars Ceramic White Bundle w/ engrave - October 9, 2007
- God of War Deep Red Bundle w/ engrave - June 6, 2008
- Spider-Man "Red Glossy/ Black matte surface with black buttons" - November 11, 2007
- Simpsons "yellow/white psp with blue font"- November 15, 2007
Digital TV tuner
Also announced at E3 2007, was a new Digital TV 1seg add-on tuner/receiver peripheral for the current and new slim PSPs. It will launch alongside the slim PSP, in Japan only (September 20 2007), with a retail price of ¥6,980 ($57). It will also include cables for TV tuning. As ISDB-T the tuner works also in Brazil.
Called the Go!Cam/Chotto Shot, the PSP Camera supports video and photo taking. The camera was released in Japan on November 1 2006 for ¥5,000 (approximately $42 USD). The PSP camera has also been released in Singapore on the same month for SGD various and Europe in may 16 2007 50 euro's under the name of the Go!Cam. Included with the camera is the Go!Edit software for the PSP (on a UMD for Japan, people in the EU have to download it). The software can be used to enhance captured movies and photos with sound effects and graphical features.
GPS receiver and software
A product called the Go!Explore is a GPS System for the PlayStation Portable. It works with a GPS receiver Powered by Nav N Go connected to the USB Port. A UMD contains a set of maps By Tele Atlas.
The GPS receiver features support for GPS-enabled games such as a projected re-release or update of Hot Shot Golf, as well as Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. The GPS Receiver went on sale in Japan December 7,2006.
for ¥6,000 (approximately $50 USD), and is set for release in Europe on March 2008.
Travel has never been easier or more fun than with PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable)’s new Go!Explore publisher by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Both the Camera and GPS peripherals have been confirmed for North American release in 2008.
A product named Go!Messenger is a free instant messenger program for the PlayStation Portable. It has been jointly developed by SCEE and British Telecom and was launched with PSP Update 3.90. Note that only the icon has been added and the software for Go!Messenger can be downloaded in late February. The service is currently only available in Europe.
Go!Messenger allows PSP users to:
- Send instant messages to each other
- Video chat
- Video chat with the Go!Cam
- Send video and voice messages to other PSP users
Image:PSP Web Browser.png|thumb|right|The PSP Web Browser The PSP Internet Browser is an embedded system|embedded Mobile browser|microbrowser. It is a version of the NetFront browser made by Access Co. Ltd. and was released for free with the 2.00 firmware upgrade on July 27, 2005 in Japan, August 24, 2005 in North America.
The browser supports most normal web technologies, such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). There are 3 different rendering modes, "Normal", "Just-Fit", and "Smart-Fit". "Normal" will display the page with no changes, "Just-Fit" will attempt to shrink some elements to make the whole page fit on the screen and preserve layout (although this makes such things as Wikipedia articles extremely difficult to read), and "Smart-Fit" will display content in the order it appears in the HTML, and with no size adjustments; instead it will drop an element down below the preceding element if it starts to go off the screen.
Version 2.70 of the PSP firmware also introduced basic Flash playing capabilities to the browser, however the player was only version 6, three iterations behind the current desktop version 9, so such websites as YouTube are impossible to view.
The browser has a very basic user interface consisting of 2 bars that are hidden during browsing and only displayed when the user taps Triangle. The top bar of the interface displays the page title (which scrolls if it is too long to fit on the screen) and the current address. The bottom bar displays 10 icons: File, Back, Forward, Refresh, Home, Bookmarks, History, View, Tools, and Help. File, Bookmarks, History, View, and Tools all open submenus while Help displays a diagram of the PSP system itself indicating the function of each button whilst using the browser.
The browser also has limited Tabbed document interface|tabbed browsing support, with a maximum of three tabs. Pages are opened in new tabs either when a website tries to open a link in a new window using the HTML command
target="blank" or when the user selects a link and holds down X rather than just tapping it. The user switches between tabs by holding Square and tapping the shoulder buttons.
If a page requires too many resources, the browser will not load it, displaying the message "There is not enough memory.", and will return the user to the last viewable page.
In addition to playing PSP games, there have been new releases of downloadable PlayStation games that can be played via emulation for the PSP. Currently, there are only two three ways to access this feature is through the PlayStation Network service for PlayStation 3 or a PC. Recently, the PlayStation Network service, and the PlayStation Store has been opened up for the PSP.
Demos for commercial PSP games can be downloaded and booted directly from the Memory Stick#Memory Stick Duo and PRO Duo|Memory Stick PRO Duo. Demos are also sometimes issued in UMD format and mailed out or given to customers at various retail outlets as promotional content. Demos can also either be downloaded to a personal computer and later transferred into the "GAME" file on the PSP's Memory Stick or downloaded directly to the PSP using the PSP's system browser.
Greatest Hits titles
During E3 2006, Sony Computer Entertainment America announced that the Greatest Hits range of budget titles were to be extended to the PSP system. On July 25, 2006, Sony CEA released the first batch of List of Sony Greatest Hits games|Greatest Hits titles. The PSP Greatest Hits lineup consist of games that have sold 250,000 copies or more and have been out for 9 months. Every PSP game in this lineup will retail for $19.99 each.
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe announced at around the same time the availability of a number of titles under the Platinum range for €24.99 each in the Eurozone and £19.99 in the UK.
The PSP is also able to play back movies on a UMD format. PSP's audio player supports a number of audio codecs, including ATRAC (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding), AAC (MPEG-4 Part 3), MP3, and WMA, and has the option to be played with or without a set of six visualizations.
The image viewer will display several common image formats including JPEG, Bitmap, and PNG (Portable Network Graphics). However, image viewing is limited by the file size and resolution of the image and any image exceeding a file size or resolution cannot be displayed. This is usually the case with attempting to show DSLR images on a PSP.
MPEG-4 (Part 2) and AVC (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC) video formats are also compatible with PSP. With reasonable video and audio bit-rate settings (a resolution of 320×240, a video bit rate around 500kbps, audio bit rate of 128kbps, and an audio sampling rate of 22050 Hz. As of Official Firmware update version 3.30, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Main Profile video files of the following sizes can be played: 720×480, 352×480, and 480×272, and a mutch higher video bitrate. Many video files, both free-to-distribute and copyrighted, have been encoded for the PSP and are available on the Internet. Game and movie trailers are increasingly available, even from studios' official websites.
There are numerous software applications and hardware devices specifically designed for PSP's various media-centric applications. One of the best known software is PSP Video 9, which has the ability to convert any video file to a watchable PSP format. Interestingly enough, any videos downloaded to a PSP are viewable through a streaming USB connection to any Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, which then makes them viewable on a television.
The PSP can connect to a wireless network through Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b. This allows 2-16 players with PSPs to create a local, ad-hoc network for multiplayer gameplay, and also allows the PSP user to connect to the internet via an internet-connected Wi-Fi router. By connecting to the internet, players can compete against other players also connected to the internet, or browse the World Wide Web and download files to the Memory Stick via the built-in Access Co. NetFront browser. Use of wireless network features unfortunately increases the power consumption and results in a lower battery life. Developers have made Microsoft Windows like portals through the browser to make it look like their PSP systems were running Windows.
The old PSP features a standard IrDA port located on the top left of the device. To date, the only games or applications to leverage this feature have been homebrew. This can be used to control many TVs as well as other infrared devices. The port is absent from the new PSP Slim redesign, which was probably removed due to the lack of any official software that utilised it. Instead, the Wifi switch has moved to the top where the port previously was, so gamers do not accidentally turn wifi off when browsing the web, playing online, etc.
The PSP's main menu (XMB) allows the user to configure the system for use across the Internet or an intranet via a wireless connection, known as infrastructure mode. The PSP's menu can recognize protected and non-protected wireless networks within its range, and supports connecting to WEP and WPA wireless encrypted networks.
Use of infrastructure networks in PSP software began with a small number of titles at the U.S. launch, supporting online play. South Korean PSPs have shipped with software providing web browsing and multimedia streaming features, but only through company-owned Wi-Fi hot spots, and with a monthly fee.
Sony's LocationFree Player allows users to stream live television broadcasts (or other video content) to their PSP, within their WiFi network, or remotely via the Internet.
After the release of firmware 3.80, streaming audio is now available to be used on the PSP.
Firmware 3.90 enables Skype WiFi phone functionality on the newer PSP Slim.
The RSS features allow the user to download video web feeds or listen to podcasts from websites. RSS or podcast content can be saved to the Memory Stick Duo. Audio (and more recently video,) content can be streamed and played "live." After the release of firmware 3.50, there is now a RSS Guide function.
Ad-hoc wireless networking allows for up to 16 PSPs within range to communicate directly to each other (typically for multi player gaming). One unit acts as the host for a game, which is available to other PSP units within that system's range, and appears in a list when the client PSP searches for available server/hosts. One can also use an Ad-Hoc network to send images from one PSP to another by use of the "send" and "receive" functions that appear in the "PHOTO" menu in the XMB.
Some titles for the PSP support a feature dubbed "gamesharing," which facilitates a limited set of multi player features between two PSPs with only one copy of the game UMD/ISO. A reduced version of the game being shared is transferred to the PSP without a UMD/ISO via the PSP's Wi-Fi connection, whereupon it is loaded into RAM and runs.
Such "gameshare versions" of titles usually have their feature set reduced because of technical limitations. This is mainly due to transfer times since data for the game must be transferred to the second PSP wirelessly, at a rate of 11 megabits per second.
PSP Slim & Lite
At E3 2007, Sony released information that a new version of the PSP would be released in September 2007, for all regions. The new PSP is 33% lighter (reduced from 280g to 189g) and 19% thinner than the original PSP system. The redesign also features a TV Output, supports charging via USB, double the onboard RAM (32MB to 64MB)and has a brighter screen. It also caches UMD data in memory to decrease game loading times. The WLAN switch has been moved to the top where the old IR Receiver was to avoid accidental switching, and the speakers have been moved from the face of the unit to the bottom, to combat users hands from blocking the speaker of the old model.
Full article: PSP Slim & Lite
Each PSP runs a particular version of the PSP system software (Sony's name for the unit's firmware), which comprises the device's operating system and additional core functionality. System software updates can be obtained in four ways:
- Direct download to the PSP over Wi-Fi. This can be performed by choosing "Settings", "Network Update" from the XMB.
- Download to a PC, then transfer to the PSP via a USB cable or Memory Stick.
- Included on the UMD of most games. These games may not run with earlier firmware than the version on their UMD.
- Download from a PS3 or PS2 to a PSP system via USB cable.
- Download from the PSP system to the PS3 or PS2 via USB cable.
While system software updates can be used with consoles from any region, Sony recommends only downloading system software updates released for the region corresponding to the system's place of purchase. System software updates have added various features including a web browser, Adobe Flash Player, additional codecs for images, audio, and video, PlayStation 3 connectivity, as well as patches against several security exploits, vulnerabilities, and execution of homebrew programs. If the power supply is lost while writing to or updating the system software, the console will no longer be able to boot. As of January 29, 2008, the latest version of the System Software is 3.90 (See Official Firmware for an up-to-date list).
In May 2005, it was found that PSPs using the 1.00 version of the firmware (See Official Firmware) could execute unsigned code. What this meant in practice was that these PSPs could run homebrew software, as the mechanism for checking to make sure that software has been approved by Sony had not yet been activated. Later exploits have allowed for PSPs using later versions of Sony's firmware to run homebrew applications, and development of new exploits to bypass new restrictions to limit unauthorized programs is ongoing. Utilizing homebrew applications allows for a significant increase in functionality on the PSP, such as FLAC and Ogg Vorbis audio playback, emulation of dozens of different video game systems, and eBook viewing. Since the creation of the Pandora's Battery software by a conglomeration of PSP homebrew developers, any PSP may be hacked to utilize homebrew software, regardless of its firmware (See Custom Firmwares) version.
PlayStation Store (PC)
On September 20, 2007, SCEI launched the PlayStation Store (PC) for the PSP, an online shopping service similar to the PlayStation Store for the Playstation 3. The service was first only available in Japan. It was later launched in Taiwan and Hong Kong on November 21, 2007, and in Europe on November 22, 2007.
Controversial advertising campaigns
- Sony admitted in late 2005 to hiring graffiti artists to spray paint advertisements for the PSP in seven major U.S. cities including New York City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|Philadelphia, and San Francisco, California|San Francisco. The mayor of Philadelphia has filed a cease and desist order and may file a criminal complaint. According to Sony, it is paying businesses and building owners for the right to graffiti their walls. Sony Draws Ire With PSP Graffiti
- In 2006, Sony ran a poster campaign in England. One of the poster designs with the slogan "Take a running jump here" was removed from a Manchester Piccadilly station tram platform due to concerns that it might encourage suicide.
- News spread on in July 2006 of a billboard advertisement released in the Netherlands which depicted a literally white colored woman holding a similarly literally black colored woman by the jaw, saying "PlayStation Portable White is coming." Some found this to be racially charged due to the portrayal of a white woman subjugating a black woman. Two other similar advertisements also existed, one had the two women facing each other on equal footing in fighting stances, while the other had the black woman in a dominant position on top of the white woman. The stated purpose of the advertisements was to contrast the white and black versions of its game console available for sale. These ads were never released in the rest of the world, and were pulled from the Netherlands after the controversy was raised.
- Sony came under scrutiny online in December 2006 for a guerrilla marketing campaign hoping to go viral marketing|viral, for the console, with advertisers masquerading as young bloggers who desperately wanted a PSP. The site was registered to and created by youth marketing company Zipatoni on behalf of Sony before it was taken down. A Mirror (computing)|mirror of the blog can be found here