Buyer's Guide: PSP

PSP 3000PSP-3000/PSP Slim & Lite - A PS2 in your pocket

PSP 3000PSP-3000/PSP Slim & Lite - A PS2 in your pocket

Who's it best for?

When talking about the games, you can pretty much consider the PlayStation Portable (PSP) to be a PlayStation 2 that fits in your pocket. The hardware is much the same, and many of the same games can be found on each of the two game systems - and of an almost identical quality.

Serious gear for serious gamers
Because the PSP is the powerhouse of portable gaming, it's very much the domain of the hardcore player. But that doesn't mean it's only of appeal to the mature audience - it's also the platform of choice for experienced younger gamers who want portable entertainment that offers the stunning visuals and intense challenges of a living room console.

Best Bits

A widescreen experience
Even the PlayStation 2 doesn't carry all that many games that play in full widescreen, so the PSP actually has a leg up on its living room counterpart. The bright, detailed, responsive screen fits the 16:9 widescreen ratio, which allows players to see a lot more of their gaming world even on a handheld device.

Online play, built-in browser
With wi-fi built in and a web browser at your fingertips, the PSP is always ready to go online. Plenty of games involve online content, including multiplayer functions and immediate access to demos of new games and the PlayStation Store.

The PlayStation Store
Although other formats have embraced online purchasing of downloadable games more avidly, the PSP is one of the pioneers of the online 'digital download' stores, and offers a range of games from budget to premium priced titles delivered right to your digital doorstep.

Worst Bits

The expensive option
The console quality of the PSP and its games means it's not the cheapest option on the shelves.

Haven for the hardcore
The PSP makes experienced gamers feel right at home, but casual and younger gamers might find its games a bit intensive and overwhelming.

It's a long route to the PlayStation Store
Although the PSP does its utmost to walk you through the process of getting online and buying games from the PlayStation Store, it's not a breeze by a long shot. Once you do get setup, however, the next time isn't so bad.

Bonus Extras

Bite-sized bonus
Sony recently puts it weight back behind the PSP, giving it a new leash of life through PSP Minis - a range of digitally downloaded games available at a fraction of the cost of full-priced titles (and enough of them can compete with the premium games).

Plays nice with your PS3
The relationship between the PSP and PlayStation 3 is getting closer every day, with popular games such as LittleBigPlanet and Assassin's Creed 2 providing cross-content between the living room and handheld consoles.

The Play TV function on the PS3 even allows you to set recordings and watch live and recorded TV programmes remotely from your PSP.

UMD for you and me
The PSP's high capacity disk format isn't called the Universal Media Disk for nothing. Alongside games, Sony launched a vast library of films for you to watch on the go. It's not as well supported these days, but you can still put some great DVD-quality movies in your pocket.

Built-in Skype
The immensely popular internet chat service Skype, which allows you to make free worldwide voice calls to other Skype users, is built into your PSP. All you need is a microphone headset and wi-fi.

Portable gaming... at home!
We said the PSP was like a PS2 in your pocket, but with the addition of a TV-out cable, you can play your PSP games, watch your videos and browse the web on the big screen; turning the handheld back into a living room console!

Online Features

PlayStation Network (PSN)
We're not going to pretend that it's a quick and easy job setting up a PSN account through the PSP, but it's a task that's worth doing, as browsing that online store is a fantastic way to keep yourself up to date with demos, news and new releases.

PSP Minis
The hardcore nature of the PSP has been considerably softened lately by the introduction of PSP Minis to the PlayStation Store. These smaller, bite-sized games come at a fraction of the cost of premium PSP titles, and offer a more immediate, casual, 'coffee break' type of entertainment. A lot of gamers are taking to their PSPs all over again purely because of Minis, so give this some serious consideration when choosing which handheld is for you.

What do you need to get online?
You'll need to be connected to the net using wi-fi. The PSP has more options for connecting to a wireless internet signal than the DS Lite, and once you're in the store you'll be glad you persevered (not that it's especially difficult to get online - it's just a bit laborious).

Buying games online
Purchase games (including PSP Minis) online using PSN cards which can be purchased through your console or in your local GAME store.

Essential Accessories

There really isn't much in the way of accessories that the PSP needs for gaming; the whole point of this handheld is that a complete console, TV and controller can be carried with you.

But it's the most advanced piece of portable technology you can buy, and those are features waiting to be unlocked by a couple of affordable add-ons.

  • Just in case: This is a pricy piece of hardware, so give it the protection it deserves while on your travels.
  • Go!Cam: Skype is built into the PSP for voice calls, but with the addition of the small Go!Cam you've got a full video webcam.
  • Go!Explore: With such a great screen the PSP makes a superb personal sat nav system with the addition of Go!Explore and its GPS receiver.
  • AV Cable: The PSP can just as easily output an AV signal (audio/video) to your TV, so you can enjoy its delights on the big screen.
  • Memory Stick PRO Duo: If you plan on using the online PSP store (and you're well advised to do so) you're going to need plenty of storage space. Fortunately Sony's Memory Stick PRO Duo memory cards are very affordable and come in high capacities, so get yourself a nice big one.


Pretty much anything you can get for the PlayStation 2 has a presence on the PSP. So if you've got a living room favourite you'd like to play on the train, chances are good that the PSP will have what you need.


As serious and hardcore as the PSP is, Sony is putting its weight fully behind this handheld console all over again with a new emphasis on digital downloads. This is bringing a new accessibility to the PSP that makes it far more suitable for a broad range of gamers - including those on a budget.

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