One of the advertised improvements of the new PSP Slim was the fact that it could be recharged via its USB port. And while that may not sound like a major feature, for anyone who's ever traveled with a tangle of three, four, or even more AC adapters (laptop, phone, iPod, BlackBerry, and so forth), it was certainly an attractive idea. Unfortunately, it didn't quite deliver. Yes, the new PSP can be charged via its topside USB port, but the caveats involved make it more trouble than it's worth: the USB charging is almost twice as slow, it works only when the PSP is powered on and in a dedicated USB charge mode, and it needs a PC as a source--it won't charge from a standalone AC-to-USB adapter. Thankfully, a handy $15 accessory from Kensington provides a much better USB charging solution--and it works with both newer PSPs and the original models.
The Kensington USB Power Tip for Nintendo Game Boy and Sony PSP is one of several USB power tips sold by the accessory maker. As the name indicates, the model in question does double duty for charging Sony PSP and Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP models. The kit includes a retractable USB cable with a male and female connection on each respective end. Into the female end, you plug in the included adapter for either the PSP or GBA power port. The male end plugs into any powered USB port, be it on a computer, a powered hub, or--here's the best part--any AC-to-USB power adapter. That means you can charge the PSP (or Game Boy) straight off your iPod power adapter. As such, we were able to charge both PSP models--the original version and the new Slim PSP--from a laptop, a USB hub, an Apple iPod power adapter, and the Belkin Dual USB Adapter. (That final option is particularly attractive because you can charge two USB-based devices simultaneously.) Because the Kensington adapter uses the PSP's main power port rather than its USB input, it charges just as quickly as using the Sony-supplied AC adapter (no trickle charge), and it allows the PSP to be played while it's being juiced up, or turned off completely. The cable can be stretched as long as 32 inches but retracts down to just 5 inches for traveling.
While some may argue that having a Game Boy Advance SP adapter is worthless this late in its lifecycle, we should note that the GBA SP adapter does double duty for the original Nintendo DS model as well. Strangely, Kensington doesn't include an adapter for the wildly popular DS Lite--but any third-party GBA-to-DS Lite power adapters should bridge the gap (a dongle scrounged from a GameStop AC adapter allowed the Kensington cable to connect to the Lite without a hitch).
For PSP owners who don't need a GBA adapter or retractable cable, there are other alternatives such as the Mad Catz PSP Power Pak that not only provide power over a USB connection, but allow for simultaneous data transferring as well.