Almost a month ahead of its launch in the UK, Sony sent us its new PSP Go -- the UMD-less addition to the PlayStation Portable family. We thought, as we often do, that you'd probably want to have a look at it too.
The first thing you'll notice is it's smaller than the current PSP 3000, largely due to the fact that the controls no longer live on either side of the LCD display. Instead, they slide out from underneath, and the result is a system more suitable to be carried in a trouser pocket. The screen's smaller too -- 97mm (3.8 inches) compared to 109mm (4.3 inches) on previous PSPs. It still runs at 480x272 pixels, however, and the tighter pixel density makes the Go's screen look much sharper.
But the major change is the lack of a UMD slot. Full PSP games are downloaded over Wi-Fi to the system's 16GB of internal memory. With this in mind, we're disappointed Sony only gave the console 802.11b Wi-Fi instead of the faster 802.11g standard. Some games are pushing 2GB in size as well, so you could be waiting a couple of hours for your games to download.
Once downloaded though, they load fast and you should get to store perhaps 10 at any one time. Plus, if you need to head back to the main PSP menu mid-game, the Go saves the current state of the game to its memory when you hit the PSP button to the left of the screen. Unlike saving your game's progress normally, this feature allows you to get back into the game's action within seconds. It'll be a killer trick if you regularly find yourself needing to exit a game to browse the Web. Y'know, to look up cheats.
After passing it around the team to play a copy of MotorStorm: Arctic Edge (which is ace, by the way), we can report mixed feelings about the layout of the Go's controls. Some of us immediately found them comfortable and intuitively laid-out (namely Nate). But Nick felt the action buttons were too small and the analogue stick was too stiff, although he agreed it's far better positioned compared to the PSP 3000. But we all agreed the console's chassis was impressively well-built, and offered a much more refined, premium look and feel.
Sony has also opted to use its Memory Stick Micro M2 card format instead of the much larger Memory Stick Duos. This can instantly add several gigabytes of space to your PSP Go for more games and movies, and also offers an easy way of backing up your downloads. We tested playing MotorStorm from an M2 card and it loaded a little more slowly, but played normally.
When the Go's released in early October, you can expect to pay around £230 for it. The more compact design is a feature worth paying for, as is perhaps the addition of stereo Bluetooth (which works really well) and the state-saving feature. But you're going to be at the behest of Sony to pay its prices for game downloads. You'll also miss out on being able to resell physical UMD disks to put towards new titles. And is all this good value for a £100-larger spend over the £130 PSP 3000? Not to us, friends. Not to us.
So, while we really, really like the console, we can't think the majority of PSP 3000 owners will want to rush out to cough up the required poundage for an upgrade. And for the PSP 2000 and PSP 1000 owners who may, they should ask themselves this: do you ever buy used games, and do you ever sell games? If you answer yes, think long and hard before pulling out your wallet.
Loads of hands-on photos over the next few pages.