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At 128mm, the PSP Go is about two-thirds the width of previous PSPs, finally making the latest member of the PlayStation Portable family pocketable. It's also thinner, but about the same height.
As part of its spatial gymnastics, Sony has shrunk the screen from 4.3 inches to 3.8. Brightness has been turned up a tad, but because the resolution is the same at 480x272, the new screen is sharper. On balance we didn't miss those 0.5 inches during our daily commutes. The screen's glossy finish may help colours pop, but it can make gaming and video watching on sunny days difficult — did we really pay AU$450 to look in the mirror? Similarly, the piano black finish looks the business, but both it and the screen would make the lads and ladies at the police fingerprinting branch very happy indeed.
Hiding the primary controls is the other big contributor to the Go's missing girth. Sliding the screen up not only elicits a pleasing ker-thunk, but also reveals the Go's main controls (from left to right): the four-way D-pad; an analog thumb pad; Start and Select buttons; and PlayStation's trademark square, triangle, circle and cross buttons. Recessing the analog thumb pad greatly reduces the incidence of accidental manipulation, although those hankering for a second analog control to bring the PSP on par with its non-portable PlayStation cousins will be left disappointed. This, however, neatly sidesteps any future compatibility issues — for now.
Despite the slender nature of the Go's two halves and the unit's lack of heft — it weighs just 158g — the Go feels solid. Our smallish hands had no problems mashing the main controls and the shoulder buttons simultaneously; those with larger mitts should try one out in store first though. It's all too easy, however, to accidentally knock the shoulder buttons when picking up or moving the PSP Go, or sliding its screen up and down. So, if, like us, you're not completely anal about flicking the power switch to the hold position, you'll be accidentally switching music tracks or, more annoyingly, videos with hair-tearing regularity.
Joining the left and right shoulder buttons along the top edge are (from the left) a button for screen brightness (three pre-defined settings), volume rocker and an equaliser button that doubles as a mute switch. Again, it's all too easy to knock a shoulder button when trying to use these. The aforementioned power/hold switch is on the right edge, while the wireless switch for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is on the left. The only other control of note is the PlayStation button located near the screen's bottom left corner.
The AC jack and the mini-USB port of yore has given way to an easy-to-lose USB cable with a proprietary connector. To charge the Go, either connect the USB cable to the mains power brick or hook it up to either your PC or PS3 and put the Go in USB mode — the latter method precludes you playing and charging the Go simultaneously.
For the first time, Bluetooth is included, allowing the PSP Go to pair with headsets, as well as wireless PS3 controllers. The latter's useful if you've hooked the Go up to a TV, but a new AV out cable that plugs into the Go's proprietary slot is required; previous PSP TV cables utilised the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Wi-Fi is back and, disappointingly, Sony deemed it unworthy of an upgrade. So, you can have any type of connection you want so long as it's the most basic 802.11b variety and heaven help you if encryption is set to anything other than WEP or WPA1. The web browser is slow and seven different types of awful when viewing full fat websites, with Flash playback it's particularly slow and cumbersome. Mobile only sites look OK though, while PSP optimised sites, such as the online manual, are, of course, good. The online PlayStation store not only looks great on the Go, but updates and renders quickly despite the 802.11b connection.
A microphone is included, hiding between the analog controller and the Select and Start buttons. It works reasonably well with the bundled Skype client. Remote Play is also part of the package, allowing you to stream music, movies and photos from a registered PS3 residing either on a local network or on the internet; only one PS3 can be registered at a time.
Despite the Go being the first PSP to leave the factory without a UMD (Universal Media Disc) drive, we were only able to wring out just under three hours of movie watching and game playing, with a spot of surfing, internet radio and Bluetooth connectivity thrown in for good measure, from the 930mAh battery. We'll complete our full battery of tests — boom tish! — over the coming days and update this review early next week.