As of Tuesday, the Sony PSP 3000 is officially for sale. The CNET review has been up since late last week, but for those with short attention spans, here's the deal: It's an evolutionary step up from last year's PSP 2000, with a slightly improved screen (better color reproduction, slightly less glare), a built-in microphone (Skype users can now use regular headphones instead of a special headset), and improved video-out support (games can now be displayed on non-HD TVs). Otherwise, it's pretty much the same ol' PSP--which we've always liked.
In other words, it's not a must-have upgrade (unless you're dying for one of those above-mentioned upgrades), but anyone new to the platform will be getting the best PSP to date.The PSP 3000 will be available in at least three configurations:
The Sony PSP 3000 Ratchet and Clank Entertainment Pack: this limited-edition $200 bundle includes a silver PSP 3000, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters UMD game, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets UMD movie, 1GB Memory Stick Duo card, and a voucher for Echochrome (a downloadable game available at the online PlayStation Store).
Sony PSP 3000 4GB Memory Entertainment Pack: this limited-edition $200 bundle includes a black PSP and a 4GB Memory Stick Duo card.
Sony PSP 3000 Core Pack: this "no frills" version includes just a black PSP 3000 for $169. Silver and pearl white versions should follow.
Shoppers, take note: The older PSP 2000 may still be available as some stores continue to liquidate old inventory, so make sure you're getting the latest PSP 3000 model when purchasing. Also, additional colors and bundles will likely be offered on a periodic basis.
With only a $30 premium, the bundles are a decent choice for users who don't already have a Memory Stick Duo card on hand. You'll also want to be sure to pick up a case to protect the PSP's large, exposed screen.
Along with the release of the new hardware, Sony updated the PSP's firmware to version 5.0 Wednesday. The update--available to all PSPs--adds direct access to the online PlayStation Store from the handheld device via Wi-Fi. That means you can now download movies, games, and game demos directly to the PSP. Previously, you were required to first download PSP content to the PS3 or PC--an annoyance, to say the least. Here's Sony's Grace Chen demoing the updated functionality:
In my opinion, the PSP's direct access to the PlayStation Store seems to signal that it's the beginning of the end for the much-maligned UMD format. With Memory Stick Duo cards now cheap and plentiful, and Sony loading up the online store with plenty of downloadable content, there's little reason for the continued existence of UMD and its now meager 1.8GB of storage per disc. Don't be shocked when the eventual PSP 2 doesn't support them.
So, what do you guys think? Any interest in upgrading to the PSP 3000? Excited to get full access to the PS Store on your handheld? Or are you a DS fan who couldn't care less?