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At the top of the casing you’ll find a mini-USB connector, an infrared port and the eject switch for the UMD drive. Flicking the eject switch causes the central rear portion of the PSP to open up – you can then slide in a UMD disc and close it up again. In case you don’t know already, UMD stands for Universal Media Disc and this is the format that the PSP games ship on. The UMD discs have a diameter of about 60mm and a capacity of 1.8GB. They remind me of MiniDiscs, but there’s no sliding metal cover to protect the disc surface. With this in mind, I would have liked to have seen some kind of case for the UMD discs, but alas they are bare once you take them out of the game box. No doubt there will be third party slip cases appearing soon enough though.
When you turn the PSP on you’re greeted by the XMB or Cross (X) Media Bar GUI. Here you’ll find a plethora of icons to investigate, all of which give you a good idea of what the PSP is capable of. If you have a UMD game disc inserted, you’ll get a preview of the game when you highlight the UMD icon – this is a pretty cool feature and saves you having to eject the disc to see what game is loaded.
There’s been some discussion about the long load times on the PSP, and you obviously do find yourself waiting more than you would on a cartridge based machine. But you’re not left waiting for too long, and when the game does start, you’ll realise that the wait was worth it. I got a copy of Ridge Racers with my PSP, and any PlayStation fan will know that Ridge Racer titles have accompanied every Sony console so far.