Rants and raves about all the latest in video games and other forms of mindless entertainment.

July 27, 2005

PSP ^2.0: Firmware update satisfies, leaves much to be desired

North American PSP users were suprised to hear Sony make an outrageous oversight on the PSP's Firmware 2.0 update today. It would seem the PSPs uncanny ability to translate almost any language, has allowed PSP users to fully translate the Japanese update, available for download from the Japanese PSP website. While some worried it wouldn't be compatible with the NTSC PSP, it suprisingly is. While you could babelfish the website to learn how to install it, most message boards give a much more concise version. Once the update is installed, the functionality is literally doubled.

The biggest upgrade is the addition of an internet browser. The first PSP browser was hacked directly out of the Wipeout Pure game, but ran at ridiculously low speeds. Slower than dial-up slow. Pictures weren't downloadable, and many basic things like links failed on occasion. There was no higher function other than displaying the page, and poorly at that. This new browser uses the PSP's XMR interface, which gives it a much smoother look, and yes it does run at acceptable speeds. Certainly not high-speed broadband by any means, but a complex page like IGN.com managed to load entirely in under 30 seconds. No flash compatibility though, so it's a slight discomfort there.

You can see from the photos I snapped up once I started browsing that I was searching pages like Penny Arcade, Google images and there's even a photo of the new wallpaper I've added as part of another feature added to the PSP. Let me get this straight: as a browser, the PSP sucks. The pages are never displayed in their true resolution, and you often have to scroll sideways, as the screen only displays half the width of most sites. Navigating through the pages is, I found, easier than a PC broswer, but looking at pages is often lame. Links bunch together, and some links still don't work, but web-forms function nicely, and the clarity is mind blowing. It's a love/hate relationship.

I think when I'm browsing that it's neat, but why not wait a little longer to perfect the broswer? The cache is too small, it doesn't load flash or dynamic HTML, and is just not even half as functional as normal web browsers. For a first try though, I'm impressed. Hopefully Sony decides to improve the browsing capabilities with update 2.1 or higher, and for their sake I hope they do, because right now the browser is only good enough for those who are desperate and need to google something when they're away from a computer. Overall, the update is very satisfying. The ability to change wallpapers and use custom wallpapers pretty much makes obsolete hacks like PSPersonalize, and the new compatibility between Pro DUO and ATRAC3 is something most desired since launch. A juicy update that should have been named "Firmware Squared". Still, some problems can't be overlooked...


Blogger ~MOE~ said...

amazing, just amazing. Not just on this whole thing and how awesome it is that they added these features but also amazing how you wrote it. I enjoyed reading the article and it wasn't boring. Going to visit frequently now. =)

July 27, 2005 10:22 PM

Anonymous another jon said...

Urgh. A browser on a handheld. Makes me wanna puke. Such a bad idea. Until they add a mouse, I don't care. A keyboard is necessary as well, but they've already got that planned. A touch screen kinda helps for browsing on tiny screens, but I'd still much rather do it on my computer. Still, I guess it's sort of convenient to be able to browse certain websites while on the go. Places like Penny Arcade would certainly benefit.

But then you run into the problem of maybe not always being in range of a WiFi signal. In some places (like the city I used to live in, but recently moved out of) have now added city-wide WiFi (or have had it for some time already). That's nice. But not every place has that. Besides, chances are, if I'm in range of a WiFi signal, I can access a computer and have a much better time browsing the intraweb.

What a waste of time, programming a PSP browser.

Also, soon enough I'll have a laptop. Surely anyone who can afford to buy a mediocre handheld for $250 can afford to buy a mediocre laptop. Not always the case, but for the most part, 'tis so.

July 28, 2005 12:29 AM

Blogger Adam said...

While you'd have a hard time arguing how the PSP is mediochre, considering it's right on the cutting edge of technology in handhelds, but you're right, the browser right now is a waste of time.

However, the PSP's browser is functional and useful to some degree. I mean when you consider the thumb paining online access of cell phones, the PSP's browser would seem like a technological revolution. Ostensibly and functionally, the PSP's browser and online capabilities are ten fold of any cell phone. I think thats something to consider. While it's no Blackberry, it certainly has the potential to be there.

July 28, 2005 12:55 AM

Anonymous mr joj said...

While you'd have a hard time arguing how the PSP is mediochre, considering it's right on the cutting edge of technology in handhelds

He probably meant mediocre as in "it has too many mediocre games". It's also very fragile and has some hardware defects, like the sticking square button.

July 28, 2005 9:38 PM

Blogger Adam said...

While I'm not going to tell you what to think of the software, the device is far from fragile. Product testing has place he minimum drop height for internal damage to be around 5 feet. Also, the sticking square button was exclusively a Japanese problem. The manufacuring issue with the resin was solved before North American rlease, so it's a moot point.

July 29, 2005 1:47 AM


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