Editors' Note: Since this review was published, Sony has released an updated version of the PSP Headset that includes the extension cable in the package. Owners of the PSP 2000 looking to utilize that unit's Skype capability should get that headset (Sony model SCPH-98557) instead.
As part of its January 2008 firmware update (version 3.90), the slim Sony PSP (PSP-2000) includes built-in support for Skype, the popular VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) service that allows cheap-to-free calls worldwide. (Because of its less capacious memory, the Skype feature isn't available on the original version of the PSP.) The only problem with the addition of this new feature is finding a PSP-compatible headphone and microphone combination. Sony offers its own branded version--dubbed simply "the PSP Headset"-- which can be found for $20 or less at most retailers.
Unfortunately, this is not all you need to get chatting using Skype. Believe it or not, microphone support only works if you have your headset plugged into the PSP Remote Control. The Remote Control accessory was bundled with the original version of the PSP when it was first released in March 2005, but not with the subsequent "PSP Core" package or any of the slim PSP versions currently on the market. To make things even more absurd, the Remote isn't sold separately--it's packaged with the Sony PSP Headphones with Remote Control (model PSP98551). So unless you own the Remote Control that was bundled with the launch PSP, you're going to have to shell out an additional $20 for the other headphone bundle to get the PSP Remote Control in order for the microphone to function. To add insult to injury, the Remote Control and its cable are white, while the PSP Headset is black. Not only did we find this quite confusing, but it's also downright unfair. We'll never understand why the PSP Headset was not designed to work on its own--it appears that all it needs is the additional prong found on the PSP Remote Control headphone jack. After prying into the situation a little further, it relieved us a bit to find that Sony indeed plans to release a combination of the two necessary accessories soon. This combo deal will also feature matching black wires. That being said, you may just want to wait for the release of this combo as it will just be the Headset and Remote Control bundled together.