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Sony PlayStation Portable PSP-1000

Phew, what a scorcher

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Review I can still vividly remember buying my PlayStation 2. I had spent the best part of two hours wandering around the legendary Golden Arcade in Hong Kong and finally decided to give up on haggling over a few dollars and just put my credit card down. Of course, I picked up pretty much every game that was available at launch while I was there, and couldn't wait until I got home to fire up my new baby, writes Riyad Emeran.

The hours I spent waiting for my flight, and the long journey home did little to dampen my excitement. Due to a disastrous clashing of work diaries, my wife was catching a plane to New York while I was landing at Heathrow airport, so I really did have nothing else to do when I arrived home but unpack the PS2 and get comfy on the couch.

Sony PlayStation Portable

Unfortunately, despite all my excitement and anticipation, when I sat down and played my PS2 I found the experience very disappointing. The launch games on the PS2 were nothing special, and the Dreamcast had better software available at the time. Whether Sony rushed out the PS2 to kill off the Dreamcast is open to debate, but there's no doubt that the PS2 didn't live up to the expectations of original PlayStation users.

It was therefore with some trepidation that I watched the development of the PlayStation Portable (PSP). Although I firmly believed that Sony has the ability to create something truly special, my enthusiasm was held in check by my memories of the early PS2 days. However, when I finally got my hands on a PSP at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I realised that I shouldn't have worried.

Put simply, the PSP is the most important thing to happen in the video game industry since the launch of the original PlayStation. I know what you're thinking: that's a pretty bold statement, especially since this is Sony's first attempt at a handheld gaming platform. But let's remember that being the new kid on the block didn't stop the original PlayStation from redefining video games.

The PSP is a triumph of design, and it looks incredible even before you switch it on. Finished in gloss black, with silver highlights, the PSP does for hand-held gaming, what the iPod did for portable music players - it's desirable on an aesthetic level, rather than a purely functional one.

The fascia of the PSP is dominated by the 4.3in TFT screen and I can pretty much guarantee that you've never seen a display like this on a hand-held device before. The screen has a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, making it ideal for watching movies as well as playing games, with a resolution of 480 x 272 and a full 24-bit colour depth. The screen also incorporates Sony's X-Black coating, so the image is amazingly bright and vivid. The image produced by the PSP display is just breathtaking, and I've yet to show this device to anyone that hasn't been impressed by it.

Unfortunately, the screen on my PSP has three dead pixels at the top, which is somewhat annoying. I don't really notice them when I'm playing games or watching video, but just knowing they're there bothers me. Having looked around the Internet, it's clear that dead pixels on the screen is common with the PSP, and some users have found as many as ten, so I guess I'm reasonably lucky. I also noticed while I was surfing that users of Nintendo's DS handheld console were also complaining of dead pixels.

Sony PlayStation Portable

To the left of the screen you'll find a digital gamepad, while below this is an analog stick. The latter is a master stroke, and means that the PSP will be able to offer its users more accurate control. The majority of console games use analogue controls these days, so adding an analogue stick to the PSP makes it easy to keep the same feel while you're on the move.

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