One of the advertised improvements of the new PSP Slim was the fact that it could be recharged via its USB port. And while that may not sound like a major feature, for anyone who's ever traveled with a tangle of three, four, or even more AC adapters (laptop, phone, iPod, BlackBerry, ...), it was certainly an attractive idea. Unfortunately, it didn't quite deliver. Yes, the new PSP can be charged via its topside USB port, but the caveats involved make it more trouble than it's worth: the USB charging is almost twice as slow, only works when the PSP is powered on and in a dedicated USB charge mode, and it needs a PC as a source--it won't charge from a standalone AC-to-USB adapter. Thankfully, a handy accessory from Kensington provides a much better USB charging solution--and it works with both newer PSPs and the original models.
The Kensington USB Power Tip for Nintendo Game Boy and Sony PSP is one of several USB power tips sold by the accessory maker. As the name indicates, the model in question does double duty for charging Sony PSP and Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP models. The kit includes a retractable USB cable with a male and female connection on each respective end. Into the female end, you plug in the included adapter for either the PSP or GBA power port. The male end plugs into any powered USB port, be it on a computer, a powered hub, or--here's the best part--any AC-to-USB power adapter. That means you can charge the PSP (or Game Boy) straight off your iPod power adapter. As such, I was able to charge both PSP models--the original version and the new Slim PSP--from a laptop, a USB hub, an Apple iPod power adapter, and the Belkin Dual USB Adapter. (That final option is particularly attractive because you can charge two USB-based devices simultaneously.) Because the Kensington adapter uses the PSP's main power port rather than its USB input, it charges just as quickly as using the Sony-supplied AC adapter (no trickle charge), and it allows the PSP to be played while it's being juiced up, or turned off completely. The cable can be stretched as long as 32 inches, but retracts down to just 5 inches for travelling.
In short, if you need to charge any PSP model from a USB power source, the Kensington USB Power Tip is an optimal solution. You'll need to supply the USB power, but if you've got a PC or an iPod adapter, that's already taken care of. About the only possible improvement would be for Kensington to include a DS power tip, as well, so it could do triple duty for all portable gaming devices--but that's nothing more than a nitpick. This handy accessory is widely available at Circuit City and Amazon for as little as $15 to $20 (both merchants are showing a slightly incorrect photo, but it's the right product). For many PSP owners, it'll be a must-have.