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5 Reasons to Buy a PSP (Not a DS or iPhone/iPod Touch)

Can't decide which video game handheld to choose? We'll help.

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PSP-2000 Piano Black - front view
Sony
Handheld gaming has come a long way, and the advances even in the past couple of years have been huge. If you're thinking of taking gaming on the go, it can be a difficult task to choose which handheld gaming device to buy. They're all amazing, but each one is a little different in how it's used and the kind of games it's good at. Here are the 5 reasons I think you should buy a PSP.

#1 - The PSP Has a Big, Bright Screen
Compare the screen resolutions of handheld game systems and this is what you'll find:

  • DS: 256 x 192 pixels, 3 inch screen (x2)
  • iPhone/iPod Touch: 480 x 320 pixels, 3.5 inch screen
  • PSP: 480 x 272 pixels, 4.3 inch screen
Considering the DS has two screens and the iPhone has a smaller but slightly higher-res screen, they seem to come out pretty equal. When it comes to actually playing games, though, the resolution of the PSP and iPhone make graphics look much better than the DS. And the higher resolution of the iPhone's screen is compromised by its lack of buttons--in order to play any game that requires a d-pad, for example, a large part of the iPhone's screen real estate has to be taken up by virtual buttons.

On other words, the PSP has the perfect combination of screen size and resolution, without making the system a huge, bulky contraption. In addition, each renewal of PSP hardware has the potential to make the screen even better. The PSP-3000 series, for example, added a better and brighter screen--and the 2000 series' screen was no slouch to begin with.

#2 - The PSP is a Portable Multimedia System
If you're looking to carry around a single device that does all kinds of things, then the PSP is your best bet. It's a fantastic gaming device, but it also plays movies (on Sony's proprietary UMD format, or stuff you've saved on a memory stick) and music, and shows off your photos--and it does these things for multiple file formats. And with peripherals added, a PSP can even be a digital camera or a GPS (though depending on where you live, you might have to import said peripherals).

Technically, the DS can play video, but only from Nintendo Game Boy Advance video cartridges. And it's pretty low-res. The DSi has a camera and can play MP3s, but sacrifices the GBA slot, so no video. The iPhone/iPod Touch can also play video, but the screen is smaller, and you can only have as much video on it as you have onboard memory. With a PSP, you can have a pocketful of memory sticks loaded with whatever movies, tv shows, or home videos you like. Plus, the PSP-2000 and 3000 models can use a video-out cable to play video on your tv. A UMD looks pretty good even on a 42" widescreen.

#3 - The PSP Has the Most Intuitive Controls
If you've ever played a game on a PlayStation--be it PS1, PS2 or PS3--you'll be comfortable with the PSP's buttons. The layout is exactly the same as a DualShock controller, lacking only one of the two sets of shoulder buttons and the right analog stick. Sure, it's flattened compared to a DualShock, but the buttons are exactly where you expect them to be. In fact, if you've played with any console, you won't have any trouble with a PSP.

While the DS does have a button layout familiar to gamers who've played on Nintendo consoles, the addition of the touch screen complicates matters. Certainly, the touch screen opens up possibilities for innovation in gaming, but too often the touch controls feel like an afterthought. And juggling both button and touch controls can be difficult. IPhones and iPod Touches only have one actual button, meaning that either the game has to be controlled entirely through motion-sensing, or a good portion of the screen has to be taken up by virtual buttons.

#4 - The PSP Can Interact With the PlayStation 3
Although it has only be implemented on a few games so far, PSP-PS3 interaction has huge potential. If you've already got a PS3 or plan to buy one, then a PSP is the obvious choice for a handheld. Aside from interaction between PSP and PS3 games in the same series, you can also use your PSP to operate your PS3 remotely, making any video or audio, and even some games on your PS3, accessible from anywhere your PSP can find a WiFi connection. Not only that, if you're in Japan, you can use a PS3 to create long-distance multiplayer sessions for PSP games that are normally only able to make local, Ad Hoc connections.

#5 - The PSP's Game Library is Getting Bigger and Better
It's taken some time, but the PSP's library of games just keeps getting better. A lot of people once complained that the PSP just didn't have much to offer, but not very many people have that complaint now. With PSP games in big series like God of War, Jak and Daxter, Resitance, and Ratchet and Clank, and more big franchises on the way this year, the PSP game library will very soon be hard to beat.

For information on just a fraction of the games now available for PSP, see our Game Profiles section.

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