So you've taken the plunge and purchased the new PSP 3000. It's a great handheld for gaming and media playback, but--just like an iPod or a cell phone--you're gonna need an assortment of accessories to get the most out of it. Here's what we suggest:
Carrying case: Once upon a time, the PSP shipped with a cheap neoprene slipcase, but no longer. You'll need to provide one yourself, especially since the system lacks the protective clamshell of the rival DS. We recommend the Logitech PlayGear Pocket Slim, which provides protection while offering you the ability to display customized skins.
>> Logitech PlayGear Pocket Slim ($15 or less)
Memory Stick Duo: The PSP doesn't include any built-in storage, so--if you didn't buy one of the Entertainment Pack bundles (which include a Memory Stick of 1GB or 4GB)--you'll have to provide your own. You should be able to find a 2GB card for less than $20. Ramp up to 4GB if you plan on storing more music, videos, or downloadable games on your PSP.
>> 2GB Memory Stick Duo ($20 or less)
>> 4GB Memory Stick Duo ($40 or less)
Data/power cable: The PSP includes an AC adapter for recharging the battery, of course. But we prefer the Mad Catz USB Data/Charge Cable for PSP. That two-headed cable lets you charge the PSP and sync it with your PC (for transferring files to the Memory Stick). And because it's got a standard USB jack, it can also be charged from any USB power adapter, such as any one used for an
iPod or iPhone.
>> Mad Catz USB Data/Charge Cable for PSP ($10 or less)
>> Alternate choice: Kensington USB Power Tip ($17 or less)
Headphones: Whether you're using the PSP for gaming, music, video, or communication, you'll want a good pair of headphones. Thanks to the PSP 3000's built-in mic, anything with a standard 3.5mm jack will do--and you'll still be able to use Skype and in-game communications. (Skype to Skype calls are free anywhere in the world, and you can pay to upgrade your account to enable calls to and from standard phone lines.)
>> CNET's best headphones ($30 and up)
Video output cable: If you want to use your PSP to play games and watch movies on a full-size TV, invest in a special breakout cable.
>> Sony Composite AV Cable for PSP (works with most TVs; $20 or less)
>> Sony Component AV Cable for PSP (better image quality with HDTVs; $20 or less)
Media conversion software: The PSP can play most standard audio formats (unprotected MP3 and AAC files), but video files generally need to be transcoded for optimal resolution and file size. A variety of options are available, but we like FormatFactory (freeware) and Nero's Move It ($40, better for beginners and non-techies).
>> FormatFactory (free download)
>> Nero Move It ($40)
That's pretty much it, as far as the necessities are concerned. As for games: more and more PSP games are available via the PlayStation Store. The latest firmware update lets you access the store via a Wi-Fi connection and buy a growing number of titles that can be downloaded straight to the Memory Stick. Movies are also available, as are free demos of games.
So, what do you guys think: did we miss anything? Any choices above that you'd disagree with? Anything you think we missed? Share your thoughts below.