QJ.Net Headplay review: PSP Slim and Lite plus UMD movie

Hat peripheral of Headplay device - Image 1Inspired by the need to experiment with something new, we at QJ decided to test the Headplay unit yet again. Granted this wasn’t our first time to do so, but it was our first time to test the Headplay gear in conjunction with a portable game console that supported S-video. Thus, the PSP Slim and Lite became the guinea pig for our little experiment.

Check out the full review after the jump!

Headplay Personal Cinema System banner - Image 1


Inspired by the need to experiment with something new, we at QJ.NET decided to test the Headplay unit yet again. Granted, this wasn’t our first time to do so, but it was our first time to test the Headplay gear in conjunction with a portable game console that supported S-video. Since next-gen consoles used component video, we decided to see if a different video output would yield different results .

Prior to this latest Headplay test run, we pretty much connected the PSP Slim to every video output device we could think of. However, due to constraints (and the objections of our local movie theater) we’ve never experienced trying to play a game in a cinema sized theater. And since we already had a Headplay unit to test on, we decided it would be more economically viable to simulate the large-screen experience with the Headplay instead of sneaking into a cinema in the wee hours of the morning night.

But there’s another reason why we chose the Headplay over the TV: it’s much more difficult to lug a 60-inch TV around than it is to stuff the Headplay in our backpack. It also makes more sense to carry a portable unit around that provides a similar widescreen experience yet doesn’t require itself to be plugged into an electrical socket all the time in order for it to work.

Liberator unit included with the Headplay device - Image 1 

Granted, the Headplay unit took a bit of hooking up, but once we were past that phase, we were good to go.  All it took was for us to plug one end of the S-video cable into the Liberator unit, while we attached the other end of the cable into the new video output port on the bottom of the portable, underneath the analog button. We then switched the unit on, and proceeded with the test run.

Movie Experience – Transformers: The Animated Movie

DVD cover of Transformers: The Animated Movie - Image 1Since the Headplay peripheral was meant for enhancing the user’s experience of visual media, we figured we’d test it out with a classic movie first. The movie we selected was “Transformers: The Animated Movie”.

We opted to use the stock PSP speakers first while watching the film. However, we felt that Optimus Prime would be disappointed at the lackluster sound considering we were viewing the movie on a large screen display. At this point, Starscream’s cackles could barely be heard. Our experience changed when we traded in the stock speakers for a headset, however.
Once the movie ended, we had a verdict. Though we had watched Transformers: The Animated Movie before, watching it again using Headplay offered us a different perspective on the movie. The experience was comparable to watching a movie in a theater all by your lonesome, regardless of where actually were at the moment. If you haven’t seen these movies on the big screen yet, then Headplay will give you that same experience.

This is not to say that getting there didn’t take some work. In fact, we had to do a bit of adjusting via the sliders located underneath the Headplay visor proper in order to get the best visual effect. Perhaps it was an issue with our eyes, and our own perfectionist tendencies, but we found that it took some time to get widescreen image to look “just right.” Sometimes, we were seeing double or more of an image with one eye or the other, and we had to pause the movie several times in the middle just to fiddle with the sliders again until we had gotten comfy with the image.

While the Headplay does provide a visual treat and a pair of earphones, it won’t give you Sensurround sound or anything like that. You’ll need to either mount your PSP on speakers or attach a good headset to your PSP Slim and Lite in order to add worthy audio to your visual experience. In any case, if you don’t mind these minor nitpicks, then go for that solo theater experience with the Headplay unit.

Gameplay Experience – WipEout Pure

Cover art of Sony's WipEout Pure for PSP - Image 1We had never covered a racing game in any of our previous Headplay articles. More often than not, we tended to focus on other genres like First Person Shooters such as Crytek‘s Crysis, MMORPGs such as  Blizzard‘s World of Warcraft or action games like Ninja Theory‘s Heavenly Sword.

For this review, we therefore decided to cover one of our favorite racing games, WipEout Pure. Why? Well, we knew that we would have to play the game from a first person perspective in order to get the best gaming experience. So we strapped on our racing helmets Headplay device, and got ready to take it to the streets.

While we have to admit that we didn’t really expect there to be a big difference when using the PSP Slim with the Headplay device, we were pleasantly surprised when the Headplay unit proved us wrong on several points.


For the test run, we chose the Feisar team and competed in a Venom class race. We also chose the easiest map for simplicity sake: the Vineta K.

A strange idea came to us as we prepared for the race ahead. We wondered what it would be like to play the game without using any brakes. Thankfully, one of our reviewers had no prior experience with the game, and so he readily became our blissfully ignorant guinea pig. With a pat on the back and a general overview of the controls (sans brakes) we let him loose on the racetrack.

While that reviewer freaked out for the first few seconds, he quickly managed to regain control of the ship. He admitted afterward that playing that the game was a bit disorienting. However, he did point out that it was far easier to play the game with the Headplay device than without it.

Some of the more experienced players were less impressed. However, they did point out that it was a refreshing change to play the game on a larger (albeit simulated) screen.

Gameplay screenshot of Sony's WiPeout Pure for the PSP - Image 1 

Overall Impressions:

From the get go, we found that the Headplay helped us achieve that “immersive” experience the Headplay developers are always talking about. Considering that the unit blocks out most of the distractions, we found ourselves able to concentrate better on the game.

While we found that it was fun playing the game using the Headplay device, the slowdown effect when you hit a wall can be rather disorienting. Furthermore, boosting your vehicle may also be uncomfortable for gamers who aren’t used to rapid color changes or who may have problems with vertigo.

The Headplay Experience

Headplay Hat - Image 1The Headplay is a specialized unit. It really only does one thing, but it does it well: to provide a simulated movie theater experience regardless of whether you’re using it for movies, for video games or for both. While the unit does come with standard issue earphones, the visual treat is best accompanied by a headset.

Nevertheless, a few things may affect your enjoyment of the experience. For example, this writer, after having savored the visual experience for a little while, eventually had to stop to rest his eyes. This writer also experienced a mild form of dizziness after a bit of Headplay use, but his fellow writers experienced no such thing.

It may have been due to the nature of his eyes and not the unit, so we cannot say that the Headplay gear actually causes dizziness.


Sony's PlayStation Portable Slim and Lite handheld - Image 1Sometimes, all you need to do is to take a new look at an old thing, and you can only do that if you’re seeing something with different eyes. That is precisely the principle behind the Headplay experience: a different perspective on things.

Granted, the Headplay unit may not be for everyone, but for those of us who prefer to block out distractions and lose ourselves in our own little world from time to time, the Headplay peripheral helps to provide exactly that.

Acknowledgments: The author would like to thank his fellow bloggers, Enrico and Charles. This review would not have been possible without their invaluable assistance.

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