PlayStation Portable

For other meanings, see PSP (disambiguation).
The PlayStation Portable (PSP) is a handheld game console and a product of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan. It is Sony's third installment in its successful PlayStation line of video game consoles and their first entry into handheld systems. The PSP was first announced during E³ 2003 and was unveiled on May 11, 2004 at a Sony press conference during E³ 2004.

Contents [hide]
1 Functionality
2 Variations and accessories
3 Sales and Competition
4 Features
4.1 Games
4.2 UMD movies
4.3 Multimedia & codecs
4.4 Wireless networking
4.4.1 Ad-hoc networks
4.4.2 Infrastructure networks
4.4.3 Infrared
5 Design and specifications
5.1 Technical specifications
5.2 Power
5.3 Interface
5.4 Firmware
5.5 Region locking
6 Launches
7 Homebrew development
8 Gallery
9 See also
10 External links
10.1 Official
10.2 Reviews
10.3 News & community

The PSP can play video games, video, and digital audio, as well as display digital photos. Instead of being distributed on traditional ROM cartridges with battery-backed RAM for saves, games and other content are sold on Sony's new 1.8 GB Universal Media Discs (UMDs). The Memory Stick Duo (regular or Pro, but the high-speed mode of high-speed Sticks is not supported) is PlayStation 3 compatible for transfer of game saves and media to and from the PS3's hard drive, and could possibly be implemented as a "video enabled game controller" (a similar feature links the Game Boy Advance to the GameCube).

Variations and accessories
In all territories but Japan, the PSP is only sold as part of a "Value Pack." This package contains the console, battery, AC adaptor, a 32MB Memory Stick Duo, earbud headphones with remote, a slip-case, screen cloth, and a wrist strap, for USD $249.99 or ¥26,040.

In Japan, another, 'basic' package is available. It contains the console, battery, and AC adaptor for ¥20,790.

On July 21, 2005, Sony announced in an event in Tokyo, Japan there would be a white version of the PSP released on September 15 in Japan. The new PSP will be the same as the black one, with the strap, box, system and case now in white. Sony currently has no plans to release the white PSP outside of Japan.

Sales and Competition

Sony PSP pictured above a Nintendo DSThe PSP's major rival, the Nintendo DS is currently seen by many analysts to be in the same market as the PlayStation Portable, although representatives from both companies have stated that each system targets a different audience. Nintendo's DS has a younger target audience as demonstrated by its hands on interface also the games for the DS are more child friendly. While the PSP is for an older audience due to its MP3, internet an movie features also its games involve more complex situations (GTA: Liberty City Stories is an 18 rated game). Nintendo particularly is attempting to differentiate the DS from other game machines, including the PSP, which is a somewhat more traditional gaming device. In fact, a Sony associate stated in an interview that "It's not a fair comparison; not fair on them." and that the DS "won't have a lasting impact beyond that of a gimmick." Even so, the Nintendo DS is currently the leader of the two in total worldwide unit sales with over 6 million units sold (as of September 29, 2005).

As of July 28, the PSP has shipped 2.09 million units to stores worldwide. These are only figures for the number of PSP units shipped to retailers, however; actual sales figures of the system are unavailable.

The European launch of the PSP on 1 September 2005 was a great success. The UK saw sales of over 185,000 units, and dominated UK game sales charts. The PSP sold more units at launch than any other portable games console ever released in the UK. [1]

Sales numbers for the rest of Europe are still forthcoming, with French sales rumored to be near 100,000.


Gran Turismo 4 Mobile and UMD.See also PlayStation Portable game articles and List of PlayStation Portable games.

The PSP's inputs are geared for gaming rather than multimedia, with two shoulder buttons (triggers), the iconic PlayStation face buttons, (), start and select buttons, a digital 4-directional pad, and an analog input. There is also a row of secondary controls along the underside of the screen, for controlling volume, music settings (either switching the audio off and on in games or selecting different equalizer presets in the OS), screen brightness, accessing the system's main menu, as well as the standard Start and Select buttons. The UMD disks are small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket, and superficially similar to Sony's earlier product, the MiniDisc, but for the lack of a protective shutter and slightly different cartridge shape.

The PSP's analog input, sometimes called the "analog nub," is not a traditional stick, but a sliding flat panel; its odd placement initially led to speculation that it was a speaker. Concerns existed regarding the practicality of the input (its position requires a slightly asymmetrical grip on the unit to adequately use, with the left hand being lower than the right). While it is used in the same way as the analog thumbstick of a modern console, the resistance springs are calibrated differently: they are softer, making quick, coarse adjustments a bit easier, but fine-grained ones a bit more difficult.

UMD movies
Main Article: UMD

Because of the UMD's relatively large storage space, and the PSP's large display screen, some film studios have released feature films in the UMD format with pricing comparable to DVD videos. Companies releasing UMD movies (or will release) include Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Lions Gate Entertainment, Sony Pictures, New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Anime companies, such as Bandai, Geneon, and Viz Media are planning to release anime series, such as Samurai Champloo, Trigun, and Gungrave, and movies, such as Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, The Ah! My Goddess movie, and Ghost in the Shell.

Most releases provide alternate audio languages and content, subtitles, and special features. (Japanese releases have been somewhat more eclectic, and include UMD/DVD combination packs [2] and pornography.) On June 22nd, 2005, Sony confirmed that both House of Flying Daggers and Resident Evil: Apocalypse have both sold more than 100,000 copies each[3].

Movies on UMD were first made available in April 2005. The initial North American releases included House of Flying Daggers, xXx, Hellboy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Resident Evil: Apocalypse from Sony Pictures, along with Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Miramax) and Pirates of the Caribbean from Disney Pictures.

The inability for the PSP to play UMD movies on a television via some output cable has been criticized by many users who currently own UMD-available movies on DVD. There is a third party hack to where you can get the PSP to display on a TV set

A List of PlayStation Portable movies is available.

Multimedia & codecs
The PSP is capable of displaying still image, movie, and audio files stored on the UMD disk format or a memory stick. The system supports MP3 and Sony's ATRAC3 plus formats for audio, MPEG-4 for video on UMD discs, and JPEG images. The PSP also has the capability to decode MPEG-4 Part 2 and MPEG-4 Part 3 from the *.mp4 container, if located on the Memory Stick. The file(s) must be placed in the /MP_ROOT/100MNV01 directory on the Memory Stick, and be named in the following format: M4V#####.MP4 (where "#" is any digit). A corresponding thumbnail image file (160x120 pixel JPEG files renamed with the .THM extension) with the same file name (besides the extension) of the movie file can optionally be placed in the same directory. Free software programs that can be used are DVD Shrink and 3GP Converter.

Sony has announced that Image Converter 2, a piece of PC software for converting video files to AVC for playback on CLIÉ PDAs, will be available before the end of the year, and may be used with the PSP. A preview version was made available shortly after the PSP launch. It can convert *.avi, MPEG1/2/4, QuickTime and *.wmv movie files to AVC, as well as the "Giga Pocket" and "Do VAIO" files used by VAIO PCs to record television. It will also convert most common still image files into JPEG format. Sony's SonicStage software can be used to copy *.mp3 and ATRAC files to the PSP as well.

Sony's software is not the only toolset for getting music or movies onto a PSP, and a cottage industry has grown around offering useful tools for converting and copying files for use on the PSP. Some popular alternatives include PSPWare, iPSP, Mobile Media Maker, PSP Video 9 and PSP Multimedia Extender all simplify the task of converting and transferring files to and from the PSP's Memory Stick. Using these tools, nearly any digital video file (including movie files ripped from DVDs or digital video recorders like the TiVo) can be played on a PSP, after conversion to AVC.

Video file sizes largely depend on the audio sampling rates and video resolution. With reasonable settings (a resolution of 320x240, a video bitrate of 500 Kilobits per second, and an audio sampling rate of 22050 kHz) a 22 minute movie file is roughly 55 megabytes. (This is enough for a 30 minute television episode with the commercials removed) This means that a 512 MB Memory Stick can hold approximately nine of these files. A hundred minutes feature film would fit a 256 MB Memory Stick.

Many movie files, both free-to-distribute and pirated, have been encoded for the PSP and are available on the internet. Game and movie trailers, in particular, are increasingly available even from the studio's official site.

Additionally, Sony released firmware update version 2.0 on July 27, 2005 in Japan, August 24, 2005 in America, and in the retail box for European PSPs - this added the ability to play MP4 AAC audio files, ATRAC3plus audio files from a Memory Stick Pro Duo, MPEG-4 AVC video files, as well as view GIF, Bitmap (BMP), and TIF image files. It also added the ability to send photos wirelessly to another PSP system and the ability to use an image as background wallpaper.

Wireless networking
Wi-Fi(IEEE 802.11b) support allows the PSP to connect to wireless networks, other PSP units for multiplayer gaming, the Internet, and Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3. As the PS3 has only recently been unveiled, details on link-up features are slim, however Hideo Kojima has discussed the possibility of a link-up between Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Ac!d 2. Use of wireless network features increases the power consumption and lowers the battery life of the system.

A version 2.0 firmware update was released on July 27, 2005 for Japanese PSPs, and August 24, 2005 for North American PSPs. The update included a web browser and support for connecting to networks with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) encryption.

Ad-hoc networks
Ad-hoc wireless networking allows for (in theory) up to 16 PSPs within range of each other to communicate directly, typically for multiplayer gaming. The launch titles Ridge Racer and Lumines, for example, support this. One unit can act as the host for a game, which is available to other PSP units within that systems range, and appears in a list when the client PSP searches for available hosts. Hosting a game in this manner increases power consumption and reduces battery life.

Infrastructure networks
The PSP's main menu allows the user to configure the system for use across the Internet via a wireless connection, known as infrastructure mode. The PSP's menu can recognize protected and non-protected wireless networks within its range, and attempt to request a firmware update from Sony's servers.

A handful of titles, including three U.S. launch games(please note that Dark Stalkers: The Chaos Tower does not have infrastructure mode) and an as-of-yet untitled MMORPG, have been announced which use this wireless network functionality. Packet tunneling systems are in development by third-parties which allow any Wi-fi game to operate across the Internet (see External links).

Use of infrastructure networks in PSP software began with a small number of titles at the US launch, supporting online play. South Korean PSPs will ship with software providing web browsing and multimedia streaming features, but only through company-owned Wi-Fi hotspots, and with a monthly fee[4].

The PSP also features an infrared comm port located on the top left of the device. There are currently no known (non-homebrew) games utilizing this feature.

Design and specifications
Technical specifications
The unit measures 170 mm (6.7 in) in length, 74 mm (2.9 in) in width, and 23 mm (0.9 in) in depth, and weighs 280g / .62 lbs (including battery) . The most noticeable element of the PSP is its 110 mm/4.3" (diagonal) 16:9 ratio TFT LCD screen sporting a 480 x 272 pixel resolution capable of 16.77 million colours.

The PlayStation Portable's CPU is a MIPS 4KE or 24KE series (32-bit MIPS32R2 architecture) CPU, split into two cores each operating between 1 and 333 MHz. During the GDC, Sony revealed that it has currently capped the PSP's CPU at 222, apparently in an attempt to lengthen battery life. It has been speculated that this was one of the reasons for the cap, because this speed cap was listed on the 'Power Management Features' slide. Overheating concerns have also been cited as a possible reason for the cap. Sony has not yet stated whether they will release this cap. The cap is programmed into all games and is not capped through the firmware as previously believed. The primary CPU core is responsible for traditional game processor functions; the secondary core, dubbed the "Virtual Media Engine", is responsible for decoding multimedia, for example the H.264 decoder.

The system has 32 MB of main RAM and 4 MB of embedded DRAM. There is no memory management unit for the CPU. No evidence of a TLB has been found to date. The Coprocessor 0 that normally manages the TLB-based MMU seems to be a custom effort by Sony.

The independent 166 MHz 90 nm graphics chip sports 2MB embedded memory and through its 512 bit interface it provides hardware polygon and NURBS rendering, hardware directional lighting, clipping, environment projection and texture mapping, texture compression and tessellation, fogging, alpha blending, depth and stencil tests, vertex blending for morphing effects, and dithering, all in 16 or 32 bit colour, along with handling image output. Specifications state that the PSP is capable of rendering 33 million flat-shaded polygons per second, with a 664 million pixel per second fill rate. [5]

Unlike Sony's PlayStation 2 console, the GPU (PS2 Vector Unit equivalent) is not programmable, meaning that many effects that the PS2 can resolve in hardware must be implemented in software on the PSP. Nonetheless, the implementation of a GPU in the PSP is still a significant technological advance, in that it implements robust hardware-rendering for 3D graphics in the handheld market. The PSP was preceded in this regard by Nokia's N-Gage in 2003, and the Nintendo DS in 2004.

The PSP uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power (an AC adaptor is included for charging and running from the mains). The system's manual states that the PSP is capable of 3 to 6 hours of gameplay, depending on the screen brightness or volume level selected.

Battery life is heavily dependent on the game chosen; technically simpler games such as Lumines tend to extend the battery life of the system, with graphically advanced games (or games that frequently access the UMD drive) such as Ridge Racer tending toward shorter battery life. Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, has compared the system to the Walkman, in that battery life will be improved with each product revision, and has outlined some steps (switching to a different fabrication process, for example) which will be used to improve the system's endurance. Currently the PSP's CPU is fabricated using a 90-nm process, but Sony has 65-nm and 45-nm technology available.

In practice, tests using Ridge Racer have given between three and a half and slightly less than six hours of continuous gameplay, depending on screen brightness and volume. In one test[6], this dropped to approximately two and three quarter hours when using Wi-Fi multiplayer continuously. The system is capable of approximately ten hours of MP3 playback from memory stick on a full charge and around half this for AVC playback. While full-length movie UMDs were not available for this test, a repeating loop of the demo UMD bundled in the Value Pack provided a little over 4 hours of playback on a full charge.

The PSP's battery is removable for replacement by the end-user. This may be a response to the criticism of the non-removable batteries in other portable electronics such as the iPod. One is thus able to purchase extra batteries as an accessory; at the Japanese launch, they cost ¥5,040 including tax (around US$47, €37, £26, AU$62). A Sony high speed charger is available as an optional accessory. There is also a variety of third party batteries that have more than twice the battery life compared to the standard Sony battery.

The system ships with a multivoltage power supply for recharging the battery, allowing it to be charged in any country with the appropriate power lead. This multivoltage power supply is internally and externally similar to but not compatible with similar ones used with Sony's CLIÉ PDAs, and the power lead is a standard figure-of-eight cable similar to the power cable used with the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. The PSU itself is about the same size as a deck of cards.

A number of companies are now offering other chargers for the device. These are typically either USB charging cables that allow the PSP to charge from any PC with a USB port or are simply a series of AA batteries with a voltage regulator. These are similar in concept to the cheap battery life extenders available for mobile telephones.

The PSP's main menu interface is the XMB ("Cross Media Bar") used by recent Sony TVs and the PSX hardware. It consists of a horizontal sequence of icons (Settings, Photo, Music, Video, Games) which when highlighted show a vertical sequence of sub-icons (for example, selecting Games allows the memory stick or a UMD to be selected).

The main menu system allows the user to, amongst other things, adjust settings such as date, time, and the PSP's nickname for wireless networking, play video or audio files from the memory stick, load games or movie UMDs, check on estimated battery life, and set the PSP into a "link mode" which makes the inserted memory stick available to a PC via USB. The OS may be accessed at any time in a game by pressing the "Home" button on the console.

The default background colour of the menus is blue, however it changes colour depending on the current month of year, as follows:

January: Light blue
February: Yellow
March: Green
April: Pink
May: Dark Green
June: Purple
July: Aqua
August: Sky Blue/Blue/Dark Blue
September: Violet
October: Gold
November: Light Brown
December: Red
User skins can also be made available from game publishers within their game discs, an ability that publishers have yet to take advantage of. As mentioned in the Firmware section, users are able choose their own wallpapers with 2.00 firmware and higher. A homebrew application known as "PSP Personalize" does the same.

The PSP's firmware is updatable via Wi-Fi infrastructure connection to a Sony server, by downloading the update application with a PC and transferring to the PSP via USB, or from a UMD disk (allowing games to update the firmware automatically). The current firmware version is 2.01. Version 2.01 firmware is available at the Japanese, American and European websites and the update is compatible with all PSP's. Each update is universal, but Sony recommends to not download firmware updates from other regions. The update includes WPA-PSK encryption; a built-in web browser; keyboard input mode for Web input; AVC video playback from memory stick; audio switch function and 4:3 mode for memory stick video; GIF, BMP, PNG, and TIFF image viewing; AAC and WAV playback from memory stick; wallpaper function; ATRAC3plus playback from Memory Stick PRO Duo; an image sharing feature and higher security for a recently discovered exploit in the Photo menu. Sony Computer Entertaiment America released the U.S firmware update on October 3. American PSP users who updated their PSP's to the Japanese 2.0 firmware could not update to the U.S version of 2.0. Version 2 of the firmware was supplied on the demo disk inside the box of UK PSPs, with version 1.52 actually installed on the unit.

Region locking
The PSP supports region locking for games and movies, which limits which software may be played on each region's hardware. This scheme is based on the DVD CCA's DVD regional lockout scheme; Japanese PSP hardware already has a R2 logo on its box. However, support for regional lockout does not necessarily mean it will be used for all software.

Games for the PSP are currently being encoded as region-free, and an official Sony statement [7] states that this will continue indefinitely. There will be no limitation as to which country's handheld can play which country's version of the game. This will open up the "portability" of the handheld, as well as enable gamers who buy a PSP game while visiting another country to play it on their native PSPs.

Movies, on the other hand, are region-locked, and while no music UMDs have yet been released, these will also be region-locked.

The real experience is that the Japanese version of a game cannot be played together with another user using the Western version of the same game. For example, a user running the Japanese version of Ridge Racer cannot play (via wireless) with another user running the UK version of Ridge Racer. Similar cases also applied to the game Coded Arms.

Main Article: PlayStation Portable Launches
The Playstation Portable was released December 12, 2004 in Japan. It was later released in North America on March 24, 2005 and in South Korea on May 2, 2005. Ten days later this was followed by a joint launch in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan on May 12, 2005.

The European and Oceanian launch took place on September 1, 2005 [8]. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe had delayed the launch date originally set for March to meet demand from other regions. This resulted in PSPs being imported without authorisation, from Japan and the United States into Europe.

Sony Europe took legal action against small importers [9] in the UK citing trademark infringment. One such importer, Electricbirdland Ltd., claimed they had sold several PSP consoles to SCEE staff [10], they were subsequently singled out and taken to court and were represented by their managing director Dan Morelle [11]. UK is the only European country in which Sony has taken any form of legal action against importers of the PSP prior to its European release.

Homebrew development
Main article: PlayStation Portable homebrew
In May 2005, it was found that PSPs using the 1.00 version of the firmware (meaning Japanese PSPs that were not updated to the latest firmware) could execute unsigned code. What this meant in practice was that these PSPs could run homebrew software, as the mechanism for checking to make sure that software has been approved by Sony hadn't yet been activated. Later exploits have allowed for PSPs using version 1.50 of the firmware to run homebrew software nearly transparently, and a weakness in the image display software of version 2.00 of the firmware has allowed later versions of the firmware to be downgraded to 1.50. The current version, 2.01, has no known exploits.

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