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PSP 2, PSP, PSP Go, NGP: A History of Sony's PlayStation Portables

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Posted January 28, 2011 - By Guest Writer

By Jason Schreier 
NGP
 
In the wake of last night's Next Generation Portable announcement, otherwise known as the PSP2, it's time we brushed up on the rocky history of Sony's journey through handheld systems. The PSP never quite gained the steam Sony imagined it would, selling 62 million units as of September 2010 – less than half of Nintendo's figures for its own handheld, the DS. And although games like Monster Hunter Freedom and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII have helped the system keep a foothold in the Japanese marketplace, Sony needs to make an undeniably strong showing with the NGP in order to keep up with its competitors.
 
The PSP has gone through four different incarnations over the past half-decade. Read on for a look at all of them, in our history of the PlayStation Portable. It's just beyond the break.
 
 
PSP Original
 
PlayStation Portable
 
Launched: March 24, 2005 (U.S.)
Under the hood: 32MB RAM, 480x272 TFT LCD, 802.11b WiFi connection, 4.3 inch screen
 
When the PSP first launched, there were many reasons to be impressed. It was a powerful machine, capable of the same graphic processing as the PlayStation 2 – a previously unimaginable feat for a handheld. The screen was glossy and gorgeous. Critics praised the PSP's media capabilities and handy analog stick, as well as its built-in WiFi and slick aesthetics. 
 
Not all was perfect in PSP-land, though. Disc load times were significant for some customers and many critics complained when some PSP exclusives – like Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories – were later ported to the PlayStation 2. Would people really buy an expensive new piece of hardware if they could just buy the same games on a different system? It remained to be seen.
  • VIDEO: Sony Introduces The PlayStation Portable
 
PSP Slim
 
PSP-2000
 
Launched: September 6, 2007 (U.S.)
Under the hood: 64MB RAM, 480x272 TFT LCD, 802.11b WiFi connection, 4.3 inch screen
 
Much like Nintendo's DS Lite, the “PSP Lite” or "PSP Slim" was a vast improvement over the original PSP, offering a significantly smaller, less weighty version of the handheld. Although it didn't completely fix UMD loading times, it did speed them up a little bit. It had more tactile feedback, double the memory, and even the same level of battery life as the original PSP despite the size cut. 
 
Still, Nintendo was dominating. By the end of 2007, the PSP had sold 10 million units in the U.S. – seven million less than the Nintendo DS. Between Nintendo's massive third-party support and all-encompassing demographic, the DS seemed impossible to beat.

PSP 3000
 
PSP-3000
 
Launched: October 14, 2008 (U.S.)
Under the hood: 64MB RAM, 480x272 TFT LCD, 802.11b WiFi connection, 4.3 inch screen
 
Imagine the PSP-2000. Now add a microphone, an anti-reflective screen, and a few technical improvements. Congratulations – you've got a PSP-3000!
 
NPD reported that Sony sold 3.8 million PSPs in North America through 2008. Meanwhile, Nintendo – with no new hardware updates since the DS Lite in 2006 – shipped almost 10 million systems in the U.S. 
 
 
PSP Go
 
Launched: October 1, 2009 (U.S.)
Under the hood: 64MB RAM, 480x272 TFT LCD, 802.11b WiFi connection, 3.8 inch screen
 
I like to picture a bunch of Sony executives sitting in a room somewhere, trying to figure out their next move for the PSP. “Steam and the Apple Store are doing so well,” they must have said. “Let's go digital.” So they released the PSP Go, a sleek, shiny, comfortable new model of the PSP with a sliding screen, Bluetooth and SD support, and some other neat features. Best of all, it supported digital downloads.
 
There was just one problem: The PSP Go couldn't play disc games – like, at all. So all of the PSP games that fans had horded since 2005 were suddenly obsolete. Since nobody wanted to buy old games a second time, especially if they'd have to dish out $250 for the system itself, PSP Go didn't do too well. Months after its release, Sony started packaging free games with the Go and eventually lowered the price, but it was too little, too late.
 PSP2, PSP, PSP Go, NGP: A History of Sony's PlayStation Portables
 
NGP 
 
Launches: TBA – Holiday 2011
Under the hood: 960 x 544 OLED multi-touch screen, 802.11 b/n/g WIfi, Bluetooth, 3G, front and rear cameras, rear multi-touch pad, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass
 
Sony announced the “Next Generation Portable” Thursday morning in Tokyo. Its array of features included two touch-screens, a gorgeous 5-inch OLED screen, 3G, dual analog sticks, and a six-axis motion sensor. Although we don't know exactly when the new handheld will launch, how much it will cost, or how it will handle digital distribution, we do know that Sony has a tough challenge ahead if the company hopes to keep pace with Nintendo's 3DS (coming to the U.S. March 27) and Apple's iPhone/iPad. 
 
It will be essential for Sony to incorporate digital distribution without ditching retail products entirely. Sony will also have to maintain a library of exclusive titles that gamers views as must-own products, especially if the NGP costs over $350. Can the system deliver more than just some pretty graphics and PlayStation 3 ports? We'll just have to wait and see.
PSP 2, PSP, PSP Go, NGP: A History of Sony's PlayStation Portables
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