Review: PSP 2.0 software

Now that I have a memory card that holds more then Wipeout Pure downloads and save files, I actually have had the chance to use and abuse all the capabilities the PSP has to offer. The 2.0 gives me even more reason to have a large Memory Stick.

With 2.0, Sony released the web browser. It is pretty complete too. It has javascript support, and you can use three tabs. There is no Flash support, but I wasn't expecting it. There are a couple screen viewing modes to adjust the web pages to the PSP screen. The controls are pretty good too. The only thing I would like to see in the future is ad blocking.

PSPWare lets you sync your Safari bookmarks to your PSP (the Windows version allows you to sync with Internet Explorer). It's not that typing URLs using the PSP keypad is the worst thing in the world, but it could be better. If there was anything I thought was missing from this 2.0 update, it was changing the cell phone style key pad to a full blown keyboard. At least you can input shortcuts like "http://www." with a button click.

The thing I was looking forward to, even more then the web browser, was the AAC support. Ever since Apple introduced AAC into iTunes, I have converted and ripped all my music into the AAC file format. It saves a lot of room, and that is important when you have a large library - or a 1 GB Memory Stick.

Sony got it half right though. iTunes AAC files have the file extension of .m4p (unprotected iTunes AAC) and PSP 2.0 will understand the .mp4 file extension, and the .mp4 extension only. This is crap, and a total oversight. All you have to do is change the file extension, yes, but still. Who is going to do that. Thankfully there is software that does this all automatically for you (again, I use PSPWare) but you should not have to use 3rd party shareware to handle this type of thing.

The other problem with using AAC files is the ID3 tag information does not transfer to your PSP like MP3 ID3 information does. All I get is track number with the song and artist name all in one field, there is a "-" where the Artist name should be. I assume I would get even less if I had not used PSPWare to manage the syncing.

Another half baked addition in this 2.0 update is the inclusion of AVC, or h.264 video. This is great, because the h.264 codec is about the best thing since sliced bread on the video scene. In a previous life my job included compressing video and so I am well aware of all these compression schemes. You can get very small files with fairly low bit rates, and still superior image quality using h.264. It is simply amazing.

This gets even better for Mac users, as QuickTime 7 has h.264 built into it. This means I can use QuickTime to compress video for the PSP right? Nope, sorry. This is the half baked part. Sony did use a standards compliant video codec with h.264, they just used a proprietary header file as a wrapper for video on the PSP. Here again I am forced to use a 3rd party program to prepare my video for my PSP.

As I am sure you guessed, I use PSPWare. When my copy of Toast 7 arrives, I will be testing its PSP video capabilities as well. I will buy a DVD and rip it to my Memory Stick before I plunk down cash for a UMD movie. And since Roxio added all the features of Popcorn into Toast 7, I imagine it will be relatively easy to get a movie on my Memory Stick.

Ever since the PSP was released, people were asking for customizable wallpaper. We finally got it in 2.0. With a Photoshop action and a few minutes, I now have a folder of a couple dozen pictures to use as wallpapers on my PSP. Which is so much nicer then pink for April.

Feature wise this was a big update, and in my opinion outweighs not being able to use the 'homebrew' apps. AAC audio and AVC video were the highlights of this update. It is just a shame you have to use 3rd party shareware and freeware to get the most out of the new audio and video options. This isn't so much a problem for advanced users, but may be a show stopper to novies - and that is the majority of PSP owners.

So what will we get in the next update? How about an AIM compatible chat client. I am sure an official one would work a lot better then the ones that are being developed by 3rd parties.

Sony has created not so much a new handheld video game system, but truely a handheld multimedia platform. It just so happens that it plays great games too. I never though that UMD movies would take off, but with roughly 8.2 million units sold, it seems as though people like buying UMD movies.

If Sony was smart, it would make it even easier to get music, photos, and video files onto the PSP. If you are a Mac user you have the combination of the iLife apps and either PSPWare or iPSP. I want to see something from Sony that manages your PSP though.

We can always hope.

Comments (2)

psp user:

i think it would be good if sony develpoed some sort of keypad that you can use on the psp, rather that the rubish on-screen one. i havent seen any about. does anyone know if they exist?

A UK company was going to make a PSP keypad, it looked very good. It is by Logic 3, and it says you can pre order and it ships Feb. 24th.

If it ships is another question.

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