While some still consider it second fiddle to Nintendo's nearly ubiquitous DS Lite, the Sony PSP has sold more than 41 million units since it appeared on the scene in 2005. The company released a second-generation version in 2007 -- the PSP 2000 -- giving it a slimmer and lighter chassis, some speed tweaks and the ability to output straight to a TV screen.
For 2008, the PSP is getting another minor makeover: the PSP 3000 gets an improved screen (better colour reproduction and less glare), a built-in microphone (to increase the usability of its on-board Skype functionality) and better video output support (you can now play games on non-HD TV hookups). Otherwise, the £130 PSP 3000 is all but identical to its predecessor.
The PSP 3000 has the same slim dimensions (71mm high by 168mm wide by 16mm deep) and light weight (200g with the battery, game disc and Memory Stick on board) as its predecessor. The luscious 109mm (4.3-inch) LCD widescreen remains, and it's been tweaked: it now delivers better colour reproduction, and is less prone to glare.
When compared with the 2000, the PSP 3000 does, indeed, deliver better colour vibrancy (you can toggle between 'wide' and 'standard' colour in the options to see the difference). As for glare reduction, we didn't find there to be a huge difference. Don't expect to play in direct sunlight, for instance. But you might have better luck with fewer distractions from indoor light sources.
The silver version of the PSP 3000 has a matte finish, as compared with the shiny piano black finish of the black one. As a result, the silver body is immune to fingerprints and smudges that so easily show up on the black one. Unfortunately, the screen is identical on both -- smooth and shiny -- and it remains a magnet for fingerprints. As mentioned above, the lack of a clamshell design (as seen on the Nintendo DS) makes investing in a case as much a necessity for the PSP as it is for an iPod or iPhone.
Aside from a few very minor cosmetic differences, button layout on the PSP 3000 is basically identical to the previous PSP as well. The screen is bordered by controls on its left, right and bottom side, plus two shoulder buttons along the top edge. The button layout is based on the classic PlayStation controller layout -- the four-way directional pad on the left, square, triangle, cross and circle keys on the right -- so anyone who's used a Sony console over the last decade should be able to pick up and play.
The bottom-left of the front face also houses an analogue thumbstick for more precise movement. A second thumbstick on the right, mimicking the design of the PlayStation controller, would've been a welcome addition. More mundane media controls line the bottom of the screen: select, start, volume, brightness and a 'home' button.
New to the PSP 3000 is the built-in microphone, located just below the screen, which can be used for online communication within a game or for the PSP's built-in Skype application. The advantage of having the mic integrated into the body is that you can use it with any standard pair of headphones. By contrast, the PSP 2000 required a special headset for communicating online.
The PSP is designed to play games and movies off something called UMDs, or Universal Media Discs. We're not sure where Sony got the 'universal' part of the name, because the PSP is the only device that plays them. They're sort of a cross between a mini-CD and an old MiniDisc, and they only hold about 2.2GB of data. They load into a snap-open door on the PSP's backside. The Memory Stick Duo slot remains on the left edge.