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Discover the History of Sony's Incredible Handheld Game System

Written By: E. Thomas

01/22/2012

PSP_Prototype.jpg

ORIGINAL PSP TEASER IMAGE

The PlayStation Portable was first announced at the E3 Expo in 2003. Sony greeted fans with the teaser image you see above. As you can see, the L and R triggers are missing from this unit. That is because this image was created solely as a mock up, and was not intended to be the final design of the PSP. The prototype unit also featured touch sensitive buttons and a circular D-Pad. As it stands now, this image is nothing more than a unique footnote in this history of the PSP.

PSP_Prototype_Famitsu.jpg

PSP PROTOTYPE

When the final PSP debuted just a year later it would look drastically different from the prototype model you can see posted above. Sony may have shown the early design to the press in hopes of gauging fan response to their new machine. Whatever their reasons, it was clear Sony was putting a lot of thought and effort into their final design. The end product proves this device has come a long way since the first prototype.

PSP_1000.jpg

PSP 1000

Release Dates: - Japan 12/12/2004 - North America 03/24/2005 - EU/PAL 07/01/2005

The original PlayStation Portable, dubbed the PSP 1000, was the first handheld to use an optical disc format, also known as UMD (universal media disc). With it's multimedia capabilities and PlayStation 2 quality visuals, the PSP helped start a revolution in the portable gaming industry.

The PSP 1000 was also an outstanding multimedia player. While earlier portable game systems had released TV and Radio Tuners, the PSP was the first machine to truly combine multimedia and games into one package. Gamers could enjoy all their favorite music, movies and photos, all on one glorious little machine. UMD movies were sold along side video games in most retail locations, further adding to the PSP's clout as an all in one media device.

Features:

  • CPU: MIPS R4000 at 1-333MHZ (Capped at 266MHZ)
  • UMD (Universal Mini Disc)
  • 32MB System RAM
  • 480 X 272 TFT LCD (Thin Film Transfer Liquid Crystal Display)
  • 4.3 Screen
  • 802.11B Wifi Connection IRDA (Infrared Data Association)
  • Serial Port
  • Headphone Jack
  • Memory Stick PRO Duo

PSP_2000.jpg

PSP 2000

Release Dates: - Japan 07/20/2007 - North America 07/06/2007 - EU/PAL 07/05/2007

The PSP 2000, sometimes called PSP Lite, or PSP Slim and Lite, was released in Hong Kong on August 30, 2007. This upgraded version of the PSP now features 64MB of RAM, along with an improved screen, and a body design that is %19 slimmer and %33 lighter than the original model. This unit also has faster UMD loading times. Other notable features include an improved D-Pad, and buttons that are slightly raised and more responsive than those found on the PSP 1000. Finally one of the more noticeable changes relates to the position of the speakers. On the original model the speakers were located on the bottom of the PSP, on the 2000 model they are on the face of the machine, to the top left and right of the screen.

PSP_2000_Memory_Stick_Cover.jpg

Other cosmetic differences include a change to the position of the LAN switch, which is now on the top edge of the machine. The UMD tray latch found on the PSP 1000 has been removed, and now the UMD tray can be pulled open manually. The memory stick port cover was also redesigned, and is now a small, thin plastic cover. The original PSP also featured an IR port. (Infrared port) This feature has been removed from the PSP 2000. Along with the ability to remove the Analog Slider Pad. A new gloss coat finish makes this unit more resistant to fingerprints.

The PSP 2000 debuted to record sales in Japan. The release of the PSP 2000 would also coincide with the rise of the Monster Hunter Franchise. The PSP greatly benefited from the popularity of the Monster Hunter titles in Japan. And it seems that the pairing of the Monster Hunter series with the PSP was a match made in heaven.

Features:

  • CPU: MIPS R4000 at 1-333MHZ (Now Unclocked*) (NEW)
  • UMD (Universal Mini Disc)
  • 64MB System RAM (NEW)
  • 480 X 272 TFT LCD (Thin Film Transfer Liquid Crystal Display)
  • 4.3 Screen
  • Video Out Feature (Video Only for Composite, Video and Games for Component) (NEW)
  • 802.11B Wifi Connection
  • Serial Port
  • Headphone Jack
  • Microphone Jack (NEW)
  • Memory Stick PRO Duo

PSP_3000.jpg

PSP 3000

Release Dates: - Japan 10/16/2008 - North America 10/14/2008 - EU/PAL 10/15/2008

PSP_2000_VS_3000_Screen.jpg

The PSP 3000, which bears the nickname PSP Brite, was released in Japan in October 2008. The system has an enhanced screen, with a superior color range, 5 times contrast ratio, and half pixel response time to decrease ghosting and motion blur. The screen also employs a new anti-reflective technology to improve visuals during outdoor play. The PSP 3000 also has a built in microphone.

PSP_UMD_Door.jpg

Minor cosmetic differences include rounded buttons on the PSP media bar, and a smaller, thinner silver halo on the UMD tray.

If you look closely you will notice the buttons and D-Pad now rest in a small "dimple" on the face of the machine. Fighting game fanatics have said the "dimple" helps improve the quality of gameplay on PSP fighters, especially when it comes to performing special moves on the D-Pad, which often require quarter and half circle movements. This is just one of those nice little changes that proves Sony engineers are paying attention to even the smallest of details.

Features:

  • CPU: MIPS R4000 at 1-333MHZ
  • UMD (Universal Mini Disc)
  • 64MB System RAM
  • 480 X 272 TFT LCD (Thin Film Transfer Liquid Crystal Display)
  • 4.3 Screen
  • Video Out Feature (Video and Games with Compontent and Composite) (NEW)
  • 802.11B Wifi Connection
  • Serial Port
  • Headphone Jack
  • Built In Microphone (NEW)
  • Memory Stick PRO Duo

PSP_GO.jpg

PSP Go

Release Dates: - Japan 11/01/2009 - North America 10/01/2009 - EU/PAL 10/01/2009

Features:

  • CPU: MIPS R4000 at 1-333MHZ
  • 16GB Internal Memory (NEW)
  • 64MB System RAM
  • 802.11B Wifi Connection, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (NEW) 
  • All In One Port (NEW)
  • Headphone Jack
  • Built In Microphone
  • Memory Stick Micro (NEW)

The PSP Go was the only PSP model to remove the UMD drive. Aside from its obvious reliance on digital distribution, this system is a radical departure from earlier models. The entire unit is a drastic redesign. It is significantly smaller and thinner, and it sports a nifty, slider design, allowing the D-Pad and buttons to slide under the screen when not in use.

While some might feel the smaller screen is a downgrade, others will see it as a necessary sacrifice to increase portability. Unfortunately, battery life was also decreased on this model, a puzzling change considering the machine has no UMD drive, and no moving parts.

Some people consider the PSP Go to be the oddball of the PSP family. This negative reputation is greatly undeserved. The hardware itself is very solid, and in the end what truly killed the PSP Go was a lack of a solid game library (which the PSP series already had), along with higher prices for downloadable games. Had these two problems been fixed before the launch of the PSP Go the system might have fared better in the market. (editor's note: I personally watched Shigeru Miyamoto sample the PSP Go at E3 2009.)

PSP_E_1000.jpg

PSP E-1000

Release Dates: - EU/PAL 10/26/2011 (EUROPE AND PAL ONLY)

The PSP E-1000 was released only in Europe and certain PAL territories. This budget model removes several key features found on other PSP systems. Therefore it will be seen as a downgrade by some. This model removes the wifi capabilities entirely. It also has a mono speaker instead of the stereo speakers found on all earlier models. The overall weight of the system is lighter. And the media bar has been redesigned and simplified.

Removing hardware features might seem like a puzzling move to some readers, but you must understand the motivation for the release of this machine. The E-1000 model was designed to capitalize on the continued strength of the PSP market in the UK, EU and other PAL territories. It was released right before the Holiday Season. It was also aimed specifically at a younger market, meaning kids probably would not care about or even notice the missing features. And best of all it was sold at a very reasonable budget price. (Around $99 US) The release of the E-1000 was as much a strategic move as it was a financial decision. You can read more about that story HERE.

So while hardcore PSP owners will stick with their 2000 and 3000 units, kids and budget gamers will happily enjoy the PSP E-1000. And ironically, since this machine was only released in PAL territories, it may one day become a highly prized collectible, solely because of its limited distribution.

Features:

  • CPU: MIPS R4000 at 1-333MHZ
  • UMD (Universal Mini Disc)
  • 32MB System RAM
  • 480 X 272 TFT LCD (Thin Film Transfer Liquid Crystal Display)
  • 4.3 Screen
  • 802.11B Wifi Connection
  • Serial Port
  • Headphone Jack
  • Memory Stick PRO Duo

About the Author: E. Thomas loves the Sony PSP. He really, really loves it. Just check out this photo of his PSP collection. He has even been known to sleep with a PSP on the side of his bed, much to the dismay of his girlfriend.