Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I went to Akihabara last weekend with Gen, Jim and Boris looking for a PSP. There are rumors of production problems in China. In any event, they are in very short supply. I had heard that they could be found in some of the alleyways in Akihabara. We walked around for quite awhile but couldn't find one. Finally, Andrew came to our rescue and emailed me directions to a tiny shop in an alley that said on their web page that they had some in stock. After a bit of wandering around, we found the shop and I got my PSP.

First impressions. Very slick looking like in the ads, but the left buttons squeak on mine, which is unbecoming of such a hyper-designed product. Also, it is very glossy so fingerprints are very noticable. The graphics and sound are fabulous. I reunited with Ridge Racer, which I used to play a lot of the Play Station when it first came out. I can see myself wasting a lot of time again, but now mobile.

The other thing that surprised me was that when I popped the memory stick duo card out of my Sony DSC-M1 which takes mpeg movies and popped it into the PSP, it just worked. The movies played flawlessly. On the other hand, it's a bad sign that being able to move movies between two Sony devices is such a surprise. ;-)

engadget has a more thorough review and more importantly, a HOW-TO on how to get your DVDs to play on the PSP. iPSP allows great interoperability with the Mac.

I stopped playing video games several years ago after I completed BioHazard on the Play Station because I thought gaming was having too much of an impact on my productivity... but I couldn't resist the PSP.


How do you think it would work as an ebook reader? It would be great if that turned out to be a side-benefit of the thing. Couldn't you put the whole Project Gutenberg library on one of its CDs?

I had the chance to play with too, and had the same gripes as you. Also, the left action button (square) always had me rubbing my finger against the screen, and felt more fragile than the other buttons.

Nevertheless very well-made and impressive looking.

Ridge Racer is fun. :)

Christmas in February! I feel like a kid again. God knows how much time I've pissed away playing with my new iPod shuffle, my new Mac mini, and my new PSP. I'm very impressed with Sony's latest.

The other day, I took my PSP to San Francisco's Sony Metreon so that I could get a new memory stick for it. Once a few people realized that I had it with me, a small crowd gathered and everyone wanted to play. Although I would have loved to host a demo, paranoia won out and I ducked out the back door with my memory stick and PSP as soon as I could.

What we need now is a decent portable keyboard so that we can plausibly (ahem) pretend that we really bought a PSP as a productivity tool, a compact 802.11b wireless PDA with a decent screen, web browser and e-mail client... ;-)

How much did you get it for? I've been searching online for them, and yodobashi/bic seem to have the best prices... but no stock...

I got mine at Bic Camera in Shinjuku a week or two ago. Didn't buy any games because I'm only interested in it as a video terminal. The release crop of games all looked boring to me as do the second and third wave games. Looks like Sony aint gonna make their money back with game royalties from my purchase. I'm also using iPSP to do my transcoding. For those OSX users who want a bit more control over the transcoding process, the latest version of ffmpegX (my favorite video tool on OSX) now supports the PSP as a target. Note that it wont update your memstick/psp in the same way that iPSP does tho.

BTW the wifi works exactly as expected. I can hook up to my Airport /Airmac basestation by entering its name as the SSID, and another profile with the SSID of "any" is good for public useage. Someday maybe there will be some software that can use wifi for it. VLC for the PSP with streaming would be nice.

Even if Sony abandons the PSP like they did for that PS memstick/game hybrid thing that came out a few years ago, I wont care. I'll have gotten my money's worth out of it by then and hopefully Apple will come up with equally good hardware with better software (that would be easy, the PSP suffers from japanese software design in its user interface)

There are three significant problems with the PSP, IMO:

1. The UMDs have a big ol' gap where, on a MiniDisc, there's a sliding shutter. Try changing one of these in the dark without slapping a greasy print right on the disc. Woe betide the sucker who puts one in his pocket!

2. The glossy black surface is hugely ugly for fingerprints, it's a stupid choice. No other game controller in history's been made like this for a reason.

3. The build quality is flaky. Some units have buttons that hit the screen inside the machine so they don't depress all the way. Some have bad d-pads. There are so many returns my local retailer (Yamada Denki) gives a warning and a piece of paper that says, in effect, "don't tell us your problems, take 'em to Sony. Here's the number to call."

The 'play movies, view photos, play MP3s!' bonus is a bit of a Trojan horse, IMO. Transcoding a video for hours on end to watch on the PSP is a novelty that will wear thin FAST. And you can buy a 1GB MP3 player for the same cost as a 1GB memorystick, and it's smaller and more durable than the PSP. But people will use these features to justify a purchase, so it works... Shame Sony won't release tools to write your own UMDs.

simply put ito - you rock! ;)


The trojan horse factor is exactly why I bought it. For 28,000 (PSP + 512MB memstick duo) I got something to watch videos on without carrying my powerbook everywhere and getting lots of lower back pain. For that money I did not see a comperable portable video player with as nice a screen. When I get too bored of/frustrated with it, I'll just sell it off to a shop in Akihabara.

I tried listening to MP3s on it since my iPod is being repaired. Not satisfied at all. It has all the crappyness of any other flash based player trapped inside a crappy user interface. As for pictures, well that might get some limited use. A friend of mine found a good use for it this last weekend, he downloaded a map graphic from the web and stuck it on his PSP instead of printing it out.

If Sony thinks they are gonna setup a money making pay for download content service with this as the platform, they are smoking dust. I could see maybe paying 1,000 for a download mini game, but not one yen for audio/video locked into their proprietary formats.

Lawrence -

I think your comments are right on the money, although I have not had any personal experience with comment #3. My PSP seems relatively sturdy. I wonder if yours came from (for lack of a better term) a bad batch? A friend in Tokyo bought mine at a Bic Kamera. She says the store was in Akasaka, but that's weird because I don't actually know of any Bic Kameras in that area. So, I'm not really sure which "batch" mine came from.

And I strongly agree with comment #2. Drives me nuts. I've been obcessively and gingerly polishing mine with a soft leather chamois.

Chris_B - Excellent info. Thanks! I don't mean to dis anybody, but I had to chuckle at your comment about Japanese software design.

i have ridge racer on my nintendo ds - how cool would it be to be able to multiplayer between the devices? airport waiting lounges would take on new meaning :)

Will we see roaming users with cheap USB Webcams connected to their PSPs, uploading by Wi-Fi their small "spur of the moment" movies to their "movlogs" ?

As for these pesky fingerprints, consider these Ecsaine-like polyester microfiber wipes — e.g. this, or this.

Beautiful crisp design. But I don't play videogames. I think what I really need is a Photo IPOD to store my 10,000s of digital pics I take...

Thank God for Flickr!

Way cool. Blogged you, man. Check out my new GAMERMOM site.

Very nice.

Just played with it myself last night. (My cousin just brought it on his recent trip to Japan). Ridge Racer absolutely rocks on it.

My first impressions of the device were "woah, the graphics looks awesome". That is the first thing that caught my eye.

hey nice review. Ive done one with a few video clips including how the wi-fi multiplayer works and some downloads for peoples enjoyment. - Please have a browse

I found a new community site about the Sony's PSP.

orite i live in the u.k and am going to buy a psp as soon as they come out i rang my game store and they are now taking preorders and they will cost £180 do you think that is a bit expensive compared to how much they are in the u.s and japan

Man your lucky as hell to get one,

After news broke out 2day about a 50Gig built in HD in a version of PSP by 2006,
I think I'm going to gather some money and just buy that.
It seems that like a Ipod Killer for sure,
Then again this is just a rumor and it is a possibilty that Sony have No plans to release this.
I'm waiting for Sony to comment on this..

Seems like a smart move from Sony, After all there are like a million versions of the Ipod to suit everyones needs.

Hi, are you sure the mp4 files from your M1 works on the PSP? cos I can't get it to work and gave up on it a while back since not even 3gp likes the M1 format. (apparently the folder and filenames are compatible but cannot play on the PSP for no reason I can think of)

Kool i love the new Psp 3000

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