Friday, March 25, 2005

Sony PSP, an upgrade, or not??

This is a short follow up to Tams article on the PSP. It shall also focus on the differences and similarities between CLIE and PSP.

Looking at the PSP, there are a lot of features that stick out immediately. As Tam mentioned, it has WiFi, a physically large screen, and a fast processor. The screen has a fairly high resolution. I am not sure why they didn't opt for a HVGA screen which could certainly make scaling of programs and other things easier in the future-if they ever decided to to let the PSP have PDA or similar functions. 16.77 million colors is extremely high. For the non-techies out there, this is 24bit color, which is a little less than most PC monitors can handle-but far above what a Palm device is capable of. However, everything above 16bit is pretty hard to see.

The second new feature: WiFi is nice, but for now it has a large drawback. It only has one use right now- multi-player gaming. Possibly, software upgrades will also be done over the WIFI system. As CNet reports, this may change, but a WiFi enabled device is usually assumed to have better capabilities out of the box.

As for media, it has some ups, and some downs. The ups are that it handles MP4, and can decode both Atrac and MP3 audio onboard. The downs would be that i've heard that even pre-packaged UMD videos don't always have the best framerate (and even become pixellated), and I know that its MP4 playing ability (from the memorystick) is flawed by a limitation on the resolution, which I believe is limited to QVGA.

A quick media comparison to the newer Clie models (UX, TH, VZ) will show that it is better in some areas, and not in others. As for the audio, I believe that the PSP is better-the Clies have no album management at all. Also, the Atrac support on Clies, though it existed, was limited to low capacity mediums due to the data protection used by Atrac. The video capability, however, is a different story, and I personally believe that the PSP's is heavily flawed. On a Sony TH-55 with VZ-90 codecs installed (1src for codecs, FMP for the player), it is easily possible to have MP4 videos that run at HVGA quality, at 24fps and at 768kbps. Im not sure of the performance of the UX and VZ models, but I believe since landscape is their native orientation, they work better (the videos must be rotated to play fast on a TH).

On the whole, the device is very impressive, and no doubt handles gaming better than any PDA, even the Zodiac (sorry guys). It, however, is not a PDA, and lacking a touchscreen, can never replace a the PDA in your side pocket. Handheld devices out right now are not going to be top in the video arena, but they can try. I never regret having a device with that capability, and in the future, it will get even better.

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