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PSP System: 1st US Hardware Impressions Review

   Today, PSX Extreme is one of the first wave of Sony outlets to receive their North American PSP, complete with half of Sony's launch title's including: NBA, Twisted Metal: Head On, WipeOut Pure, World Tour Soccer and Gretzky NHL. In addition to Sony hooking it up, I personally couldn't wait for my copy of Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix to arrive from Activision, so I ran out and picked that up as well. Lo and behold, it was when I returned from my trip to the local EB that I was greeted by my neighbor who told me that FedEx left a box with him. Unsuspecting, I had absolutely no idea what it could be; but I was praying that it was a PSP -- as long of a shot as I thought it was. Indeed it was, and here she is, spending quality time with her Japanese counterpart; a match made in heaven, indeed.

   So what'd we do with it so far? Well, the first thing was me calling up my cousin and telling him to go buy a copy of THUG 2 Remix. As soon as he did that, he stopped by and we had a wi-fi session. Connecting was absolutely effortless, go to the wi-fi option, someone hosts games, the server appears and all you have to do is join it. THUG 2 Remix provided to be a lot of fun, and really rekindled the days when the two of us would play the original Tony Hawk until our eyes bled and when we set up Tony Hawk 3 online way before the network adaptor was even released. What's a little quirky is that the US PSP felt somewhat lighter than the Japanese unit, and the both of us noticed this. It's not very apparent, but a difference seems to be there, regardless.

   Between the Japanese and North American units, the screens are absolutely identical. Illumination, color, brightness, etc. was on par to the original production Japanese PSP; so fear not, downgrades have no been made. In fact, it seems as if the PSP has been somewhat upgraded for the US release. Lightweight build aside, the shell itself feels sturdier and far more resistant to twisting, where as the Japanese units would creak a little when twisted. But perhaps more importantly is that the square button feels just right and feels like all of the other buttons on the PSP; not like it was really anything terrible to begin with, but hey Sony still decided to clean it up.

   Our PSP box came with everything Sony promised. The Spider-Man 2 UMD is absolutely gorgeous to look at, and the details are well on par with an actual DVD. Despite being in a fully wide-screen format (as opposed to black bars), the movie looks fantastic and ridiculously crisp. The sampler disc contains 11 videos (nothing playable, unfortunately) of games, including Sony's 1st party stuff, Ridge Racers, Lumines, Untold Legends and others. It should be noted that the earphones with the remote control sound pretty darn good for a pack-in item. Of course, the little 32MB Pro Duo card will do the job when it comes down to saving games, but you're going to want to invest into something larger for MP3s and MPEG4 videos; a 512MB SanDisk duo will run you a respectable $80-90. Though I'm not entirely thrilled with the pouch for the unit. It's bulky, and I don't like the way the PSP slides into it; it's just not something I'd use when on the go -- I recommend looking into a sleeker 3rd party case to replace the pouch. And lastly, there is a cloth for the screen and wrist belt to carry the PSP

   In the end, what else is there that can be said about the PSP that hasn't been said before? It can do practically everything. MP3s, picture display, MPEG4 videos, UMD movies, videogames, wi-fi capability, and hell, it probably cooks and you don't even know about it yet.

3/16/2005 Arnold Katayev

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