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Playstation Personal Preview
preview
game: Playstation Portable
posted by: Shawn Rider
publisher: Sony
date posted: 09:10 AM Mon May 19th, 2003
last revision: 06:44 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005



Sony surprised everyone attending their annual E3 press conference by announcing a handheld gaming platform. The PlayStation Personal (PSP) was unveiled by none other than PlayStation inventor, Ken Kutaragi, who called the new device a "Walkman for the 21st Century". That's a huge claim, but from the hardware description Kutaragi summed up, the PSP looks to be perhaps the most formidable foe the Game Boy has encountered so far.

Although there were no prototypes or visualizations of what the unit might actually look like, Kutaragi treated us to a detailed rundown of most of the internal hardware. The PSP will be a disc-based unit, using Universal Media Discs, which can store up to 1.8GB of information and is about the size of a Gamecube disc. For comparison's sake, typical DVD-Rs hold 4.7GB, and manufactured movie and game DVDs often contain about 9GB of data. On the flip side, a typical Game Boy Advance title weighs in at about 8-16MB. What does all this mean for the consumer? Probably lots of cutscenes. Add in the fact that the PSP will utilize the cutting-edge MPEG-4 format (probably most familiar to our readers in the Div-X form, although there's no indication that PSP will use the actual Div-X format). That means a single UMD could contain a feature-length film, about 1800 minutes of music, or a handheld game so robust we have never seen anything like it.

With all of this storage power, it will help that the PSP sports a fully capable 3D processor. The 3D rendering power will pump out good numbers of polygons and supports NURBS rendering, which should make everything nice and smooth-although the tech specs on the actual processor aren't quite filled in, this thing looks to possess graphics processing strength somewhere between the PSone and the PS2, which should open a whole new world of gorgeous graphics to portable gaming.

The PSP will also feature the largest screen on a portable system. It will run at a 16:9 theatrical aspect ratio, and supports 480x272 pixel resolution. Of course, having learned from portable systems of yore, the screen will be backlit. It's very heartening to hear that Sony is backing up the ability to create stunning visuals with the ability to display stunning visuals.

Rounding out the system are a USB 2.0 connector and a slot for a Sony memory stick, which will be used to save games. These input/output options should allow for incredible expandability and, at the very least, lightning quick game saves. It will be interesting to see how the USB 2.0 port is used because such an option opens the door for various forms of interoperability with home PCs, possibly PS2, and the bandwidth is there to support high end video and audio applications and/or add-ons as well. Finally, you won't have to spend all your nickels on batteries, either, because the PSP features a built-in rechargeable battery, similar to the GBA SP.

Sony didn't show us any images of the PSP unit, nor did they display any prototypes or design concepts. But with a release date of late 2004, it can't be too much longer before we begin seeing illustrations. Keep an eye out.