QJ How-To Issue #1: Know your PSP models

QJ.NET How-To - Image 1You've seen the ads: from hairballs to graffiti, from posters on train station walls inviting you to "Take a running jump here" to dudes in bathrooms and planes telling you to get your own, even to poseur fans blogging about desperately wanting one, it's time to really see and make the choice for yourself. QJ's How-To issue #1 gives you all the info you need for you to know your PSP models. Don't skip it, jump it!

Alright, it's time for PSP and homebrew 101 with QJ! *crowd goes wild* This'll be a weekly post with basic but useful info about all things homebrew, be it on your PSP, DS, Wii, or iPhone. As the first post of the QJ How-To series, we'll take you guys back to the basics and shed some light on your PSP hardware.

That's right, time to know your PSP! This post is especially helpful for those who have yet to fully decide whether or not to get a PSP, and which model to get. It took you guys a long while to finally get aboard the PSP wagon, and finally you're here.

You've seen the ads: from hairballs to graffiti, from posters on train station walls inviting you to "Take a running jump here" to dudes in bathrooms and planes telling you to get your own, even to poseur fans blogging about desperately wanting one, it's time to really see and make the choice for yourself.

Given that some of the older models are slowly being phased out (if not already), you might have a hard time obtaining them, depending on where you live. If the chance presents itself though, and you have to make a choice - the PSP 1000, 2000 or 3000? - then you better know the differences between each of them.

Rest assured QJ will be with you all the way in this awesome ride. Let's get this baby rollin' then!



PSP Phat (1000)

PSP Phat - Image 1


First up is the classic: the PSP-1000, better known as the PSP Phat (or Fat, whichever way you spell it).

Backstory:

First announced at a press conference before E3 way back in 2003, ex-Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Ken Kutaragi dubbed it then as the "Walkman of the 21st century." The following year, at E3 2004, Sony officially unveiled this little multimedia wonder, much to the delight of the awaiting fans and impressed critics.

And then the glorious day arrived. December 12, 2004 became witness to the birth of the PlayStation Portable, launching in Japan with a successful 200,000++ units sold on the first day alone. Three months later, on March 24,2005, the PSP finally crossed the oceans to North American shores. The reception was resounding despite the initial concern over the supposed high price of the handheld. After a month-long delay, it then made its way over to the PAL region on April 25.

Specs:

When it first came out, the PSP Phat was sold with only two variants of retail configurations. There was the Core Pack (aka the Base Pack), and the Value Pack. The Core Pack is the basic unit package which contains the console, a battery, and an AC adapter. On the other hand, the Value Pack gets all that's in the Core Pack and more, including headphones with remote control, pouch, and wrist strap. Later on, the Value Pack would see some variations in the accessories included in it.

And then here are the numbers for the hardware:
  • Full form: 17 x 7.3 x 2.2 cm (6.7 x 2.9 x 0.9 in)
  • Weight: 280 grams (9.88 oz)
  • LCD screen: 11cm (4.3 in)
  • Pixel video playback capability: 480 x 272, with 16.77 million colors
Functionalities:
  • USB 2.0 mini-B port
  • WLAN switch
  • Power cable input
  • UMD drive
  • MemStick Duo flash cards reader
  • built-in stereo speakers and heaphone port
  • IEEE 802.1b Wi-Fi for the Internet, ad-hoc multiplayer gaming, data transfer

Homebrew Heaven:

Being the burly handheld that it is, the first PSP model can take more punishment than its two descendants. It can handle a few careless moments and a bit of neglect (let's keep it at just FEW and A BIT, ayt?). But certainly, the PSP Phat isn't just famous for its sturdiness. There is, in fact, that one other thing that it (and QJ) is known for - homebrew!

For PSP homebrew neophytes out there, if you're planning to get a PSP all for the sake of hacking and homebrew, the PSP Phat is your baby. It runs all sorts of homebrew - apart from the model-specific ones, of course. This is where it all began, basically. It was with the Phat that the brew community's pillars built their foundations: Nem, PSP-Dev, MPH, Fanjita, Ditlew, Booster, Dark AleX, and many others, opened the gates to homebrew heaven and paved the golden road that you are all enjoying today (but we'll have another space for their tributes at another day here on QJ - so do watch out for that as well!).

On the downside, if you're not into hacking your PSP, the PSP-1000's obvious flaws will definitely bring the fun factor down. For one, it's plain bigger and heavier than the other two models, it has no video out, and it doesn't support charging via USB. Also, well, Sony did not exactly punch the air and cried out "Woot!" to all the delicious homebrewed concoctions that came out.

And so we now have the Official Firmware Updates (OFW). But our homebrew gods are not to be deterred. To counter this, we now have the Custom Firmwares (CFW). It's a never-ending overtaking of capabilities from then on out, and really, it's us who benefit the most, actually. It's a mad, mad race out there. MAD, I tell you.


PSP Slim and Lite (2000)

PSP Slim - Image 1


Backstory:

A mere couple of years after the release of the Phat, word was already abuzz about Sony prepping for the launch of a new PSP model. Back then, there were a lot of rumors, denials, speculations, denials, bucketloads of "No Comments" from Sony reps, and more rumors. And denials.

At the E3 2007 however, Sony could no longer keep up with all their denials and instead confirmed what many have predicted all along: a new PSP version, to be released in September of 2007. Say hello to the PSP 2000.

Better known as the Slim and Lite, the second model is 33% lighter and 19% slimmer than the Phat. With its RAM beefed up to 64MB, the PSP Slim also outperforms Phat with its faster read and load time. It's got about the same battery life as Phat, but you can use a PSP-1000 battery to prolong the Slim's batt life.

Specs:

There's also an improved LCD screen and a TV out, so the bigger screen option is always open, and gameplay got better with its improved D-pad and analog stick (if you can call it a stick). Slim also has the benefit of charging via USB, which is handy if you're downloading a huge file and you forgot to charge the day before.

It's better in some ways than Phat, but not in all aspects. For one, the lack of a metal chassis on Slim makes it feel so flimsy and fragile. It also lacks the IR port that Phat has. Plus its TV output is limited to progressive scan TV sets; luckily, this can be remedied with homebrew plugins.

Homebrew Heaven:

As far as homebrew goes, most PSP-2000s can run 1.5 kernel-based homebrew by using Time Machine. Unfortunately, the infamous TA088v3 motherboard still hasn't gotten hacked, so those Slim PSPs won't get any homebrew anytime soon. There was a rumor about the said motherboard getting hacked, but it was a fake, and all it did was get hopes up.


PSP Brite (3000)

PSP banner - Image 1


Backstory:

Prior to release, Sony proudly introduced the PlayStation Portable's latest model with its vibrant new screen as the centerpiece. The improved LCD, increased color range, and five times the contrast ratio of the Slim gave it its nickname, PSP Brite. This bright screen is also equipped with anti-reflection technology which improved playing outdoors in broad daylight. To reduce ghosting and blurring, Brite came with faster pixel response and a new sub-pixel structure.

Unfortunately, controversy erupted at the PSP-3000's release, when its pride and joy turned out to show interlacing-like lines during on-screen motion, and dark lines when on-screen brightness changes drastically. While some PSP-3000 owners really don't mind this "feature", as Sony called it, It turns out to be a big deal breaker for many would-be buyers.

Homebrew (yet-to-get-there) Heaven:

Then there's the matter of homebrew. The PSP Brite is still new, but while it's understandable that it hasn't been hacked yet because of this, there is a bit of growing concern that Sony might have really, finally padlocked once more the gates to all that is homebrew. Heck, TA088v3 on the Slim hasn't been hacked yet.

Hopes are high, though, and optimism is abundant, as a silver lining appears to be up above, thanks to the efforts of FreePlay and Matiaz (and recently, Team Noobz joining the power team) in bringing us the GripShift exploit. We're still keeping our fingers and toes tightly crossed for a major breakthrough here, but if there's anything that the PSP brew history has taught us, patience is the key.

Conclusion

So which model suits your preference the best? They say the PSP is a dying console, but that still is highly debatable. Despite the seemingly lackluster software lineup the past couple of years, we still firmly believe in the PSP as the foremost handheld gaming console of the current generation.

There's still more to see from this little wonder, believe you me. And you bet we'll be right along with it. You all are more than welcome to join us, too.



So that's it for this edition of PSP How-To right here on QJ. Was that helpful? Be sure to check back same time every week for more PSP How-To articles. For next week, it's "How-To: Get Homebrewed: List of requirements to get brew running on your PSP." That should be fun.


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