There was some worry initially that the PSP would only playback ATRAC music files, but I’m pleased to confirm that the PlayStation Portable will happily play MP3 files without the need for any conversion. The sound quality is first rate, especially with a decent set of headphones. Thankfully the remote control is inline, so you can use any headphones you like, while maintaining the remote functionality. After all, you don’t want to be taking the PSP out of your bag every time you want to change the track.
Oh, I almost forgot about the battery. Behind a removable plastic cover at the rear is the battery compartment. The PSP uses an 1800mAh Li-ion battery pack, that’s thankfully replaceable. You’ll get around three and a half hours of battery life when playing a heavy duty game like Ridge Racers, but obviously you’ll get better with a more basic game, or listening to music. Of course if you’re at home, you can simply plug in the power supply and play to your heart’s content, but if you are on a long journey and want to play the whole way, you do have the option of carrying multiple batteries with you. Of course it comes as no surprise that third party battery solutions are already on offer. We spotted Datel X2 last week, which is quoted to give you double the battery life of the original PSP battery. Hopefully I’ll have one of these in for review soon, so check back for the full lowdown.
It’s not surprising that the battery life is limited, when you consider the size of the screen and the fact that there are two MIPS R4000 processors inside, both running at 333MHz. The PSP is the most powerful hand-held gaming console ever built and as such, it draws a fair amount of juice. That said, the rumour is that Sony is limiting the speed at which the chips run in order to make the battery last as long as possible. If this is true, we can expect the second generation games to be something very special indeed, once the battery technology improves and Sony opens up the throttle on the chips.