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Sony Hardware Hacking Portables (Games)

PSP Hacks and the Mainstream 251

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'm-rolling-daily-will-saves-to-not-buy-one dept.
pasm writes "The BBC is running article about how "DIY software and hardware experts have been quick to embrace Sony's PlayStation Portable console." Today I have witnessed some colleagues playing a wireless racing game with imported ones in the office. It seems that this will be the gadget of the year for both gamers and programmers with a neat idea and time on their hands."
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PSP Hacks and the Mainstream

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  • Trouble Brewing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:33PM (#12167018) Homepage Journal
    The developments are not sanctioned by Sony but the firm has not commented on the homebrew tools.

    Yet...

    So is this going to be another case where the developer of PSPIRC and other hackers have laid their hands on a PSP-DK (which will likely turn out completely unauthorized, etc.) and Sony will come down like a ton of bricks upon people? IIRC something like this has happened in the past. While I like the idea, you know Sony officially sanctions development for PS games, usually entering exclusive agreements, i.e. Sony provides DK, Developer agrees not to distribute DK, Developer creates game and turns over to Sony, Sony produces the carts and either sells them and splits the revenues or sells them back to the developer to do their own marketing (dunno if it works exactly like that anymore, but I know it was the business model.) So Sony holds ultimate control over what's released for their PS and PSP platforms.

    I expect a big shoe to drop. It wouldn't be a good idea to go blathering your name and accomplishments all over the place, particularly to reporters. I expect Sony will make their displeasure known in good time and in no uncertain terms. A shame, but this is part of their plan to protect their investment.

    • So is this going to be another case where the developer of PSPIRC and other hackers have laid their hands on a PSP-DK (which will likely turn out completely unauthorized, etc.) and Sony will come down like a ton of bricks upon people?

      If people know this, then why do they hack it? It is like having a law against speeding. I like to speed. I do it from time to time. But I HATE getting a ticket, having my insurace jump up, and being harrassed by the police. The only difference is Sony writes much bigger tic

      • by bfields (66644) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:26PM (#12167690) Homepage
        If people know this, then why do they hack it? It is like having a law against speeding. I like to speed. I do it from time to time. But I HATE getting a ticket, having my insurace jump up, and being harrassed by the police.

        The difference is that hacking the (PSP|XBox|whatever) is cooler than speeding. People probably disagree about the numbers, but most would agree that going too fast for conditions *should* be illegal. Whereas the opposite is probably true for hardware hacking. So if you get in trouble for hardware hacking, maybe you become a folk hero and help change some policy. If you get caught for speeding you probably just feel embarassed.

        --Bruce Fields

        • Speeding isn't neccesarily going "too fast for conditions". Similarly, hacking hardware that *you own* is just using the device in a way other than which it is intended, not stealing ideas for fun and profit. Speeding is definitely cooler, just ask the dumb girl riding on the back of some punk's sport bike. :)

          If you get in trouble for hacking hardware, the feds get involved and media spin generaly makes you look like a criminal. Speeding just costs a few bucks and might get your name included in a small
          • If you get in trouble for hacking hardware, the feds get involved and media spin generaly makes you look like a criminal.

            Really? Doubtless there's some way to spin "Sony sues Geek who figures out how to do something cool with PSP", but to me, from a public relations point of view, it looks most likely to be a loss for Sony....

            --Bruce Fields

            • Just say that the criminal in question violated the DMCA or the Patriot Act or some other terrorist-like activity. Damned terrorists. I'm gonna go out and put another american flag no my car right now, as just the thought of such unamerican activities - like hacking that game device - makes me sick. :)
    • Re:Aibo (Score:5, Informative)

      by Superfreaker (581067) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:50PM (#12167202) Homepage Journal
      I *think* I recall hearing the same argument when the robotic dog thing came out from Sony. People were hacking it and Sony started shutting down sites. Then they realized the benefit of the 3rd party hacks and began releasing SDKs for the later versions of the wacky lil beast.

      • Re:Aibo (Score:4, Informative)

        by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:54PM (#12167250) Homepage Journal
        I *think* I recall hearing the same argument when the robotic dog thing came out from Sony. People were hacking it and Sony started shutting down sites. Then they realized the benefit of the 3rd party hacks and began releasing SDKs for the later versions of the wacky lil beast.

        Possibly Sony relented because the Aibo wasn't a platform for generating money through subsequent sales of software. Remember, PS and PSP are what are called Loss-Leaders. They real money is in selling the games, videos and other enhancements.

    • Re:Trouble Brewing? (Score:5, Informative)

      by AnyNoMouse (715074) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:50PM (#12167206)
      Two things:

      1) The developments so far have all been browser based. No SKD necessary, just a copy of Wipeout Pure (and later, hopefully, Sony will release firmware with the browser built in).

      2) Sony has twice released homebrew SDK's in the past. Yaroze! for the PS1 and the Linux development kit for the PS2. I would not be surprised if they did the same for the PSP (limited, of course, as the other two SDKs were).

      In other words, the only problem I forsee Sony having with the "hacks" so far is the multigame "hack" (allowing multiple people to play a wireless game with only one copy of the game). The only thing I expect to happen with this is that developers will either embrace it (explicitly allow this to happen) or code their games so you can't do it.

    • Re:Trouble Brewing? (Score:2, Informative)

      by gnuadam (612852)

      Why is this modded up. It's completely wrong. The irc "hack" is not executable code, it's just using a cgi script web page using wipeout pure's web browser.

    • by gasp (128583) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:04PM (#12167345)
      Sheesh. This article is so light on details, and most of it's implications are just dead wrong. The only truthful part I read was where it admits near the end of the article that most of these "hacks" rely on the web browser in the game Wipeout Pure.

      Don't get excited, folks, these "homebrew tools" are NOT code running on the PSP. This isn't a case of somebody stealing Sony SDK tools and writing new software for the PSP or even hacking existing software. This is simply a matter of changing DNS so that you san spoof the scea.com domain and direct an EXISTING browser to a different site and putting server-side tools for the PSP to access. There's nothing particularly amazing about using a web IRC client and portals and the like.

      The article makes it sound like they have an IRC client running on the PSP, and an ebook reader. Nope. It's just the existing web browser and photo viewer, no coding changes on the PSP required. Really, there's no news here.
  • by wlan0 (871397) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:33PM (#12167023)
    I don't they ever will, since many people are too afraid that they will break them. I know some computer savvy people who are, even after having built several computers.
    • I don't they ever will, since many people are too afraid that they will break them. I know some computer savvy people who are, even after having built several computers.

      Yeah, but a computer is like leggos. It is hard to screw up. Now if you wanted to open your hard drive up... that would be impressive.

    • "I don't they ever will, since many people are too afraid that they will break them."

      I would add that I think they'll find they're not as snazzy as they first sound. At the moment, web browsing on the PSP is painful. (Partly due to interface, partly due to lack of DNS etc.)

      If Sony makes it easy to rip DVDs to the PSP, that might work out okay. But I have a very had time imagining millions of people ever doing this with the PSP. If Sony were to release iTunes for video, I might change my mind.

      Right no
    • Back in the 1990's when the Playstation 1 came out, the disc swap was pretty mainstream.

      I talked to people that definitely aren't computer savvy as far as underground hacks that at least knew about and some that did the swap trick. The proliferation of this swap trick was helped by the fact anyone could copy the disc on a CD recorder and then swap it to play the copy, no soldering skills needed, you don't even need to void the unit by opening it. Granted it's not a high tech hack, but it's a hack nonethe
    • Hacks gone Mainstream?

      They haven't, but what interests me is that Sony is in a unique position to make hacks (or independent development) go mainstream and capitalize on it to become the market leader in this area, or if it doesn't work out, just write it off as a failed experiment.

      After all, they've produced hundreds of thousands of different consumer devices, many of which have undersold their projected targets and hence are failed products in a business sense, and this mega giant just goes from there
  • by crypto55 (864220) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:35PM (#12167036)
    I know that there are a bunch of handheld devices available that can scan for wifi networks, but they cost ~$40 for a reasonable model that can detect network security settings. Has anyone heard of using a PSP for this task?
    • by kidgenius (704962) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:38PM (#12167062)
      but they cost ~$40 for a reasonable model that can detect network security settings

      If having a $249 WIFI detector is reasonable can I have what's in your piggy bank?

    • Thats a pretty good idea, I mean why spend $40 when you can spend 300+?!

      (j/k)
    • Actually, it's a very efficient WiFi detector. I did my first scan last night in my suburban home and found 4 nearby networks -- 2 more than I ever found on my various laptops. Granted, the signals were extremely low, but I was impressed that this handheld were able to find them at all (and my laptops couldn't).

      That said, once you get a connection there's not much you can do with the current system. Unless you hack. :)
    • I use the PSP for that all the time.

      All you have to do is set up a new network and scan for available ones. It will show a list and tell you signal strength and if it's WEP'd or not.

      It's pretty nice, but a little time consuming, and if you have the thing is sleep mode in a game, you have to exit the game to do it... which is a serious pain in the arse.
  • by havaloc (50551) * on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:36PM (#12167044) Homepage
    ...if the PSP was even more open. They could open up development, allowing downloads to memory stick permitting 3rd party games to be developed (think Palm) . I think this constant tendency of Sony shoving down our throats things like Memory Stick and ATRAC have really hurt them, instead of enhancing their bottom line like they think it would.

    Before you say that allowing anyone to develop for the platform would hurt sales, I say to you that people still buy commercial games in droves.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think the reason is that they don't make much money--if any--from the sales of hardware. It may even be a losing proposition. So for them to basically donate these machines to the marketplace and never have anyone spend another dime on Sony Software/Accessories/Other Profitable Items ain't the best business model.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They don't care about selling units, they care about selling games. There is no profit in selling the devices themself - the only reason they bother is they know they can make the money back on games sales. If they allowed 3rd party games they would lose their cash cow.
    • by Stone316 (629009) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:42PM (#12167114) Journal
      Personally, I think Sony hit the nail on the head with the PSP allowing it to do other things like watch movies, etc.

      Personally, while I think they are cool, i'm not going to buy one unless they open it up more. If i can record TV shows on my PC and then burn them on a UMD disc to watch later on the PSP (say i'm at the doctor, or waiting for the wife shopping, etc) then i'd definately pick on up. But i'm not going to go out and buy a ton of proprietary memory sticks and constantly have to be reformating it to watch a show.

      There is a huge potential for the PSP but I don't think sony will take advantage of it. They have already said that their business practices have hurt them in the past... we can always hope they come around.

      • by radish (98371) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:06PM (#12167362) Homepage
        But i'm not going to go out and buy a ton of proprietary memory sticks

        You have to buy exactly one memory stick. Which is not proprietary as the readers, devices and cards are manufactured by more than one company, just like (say) SecureDigital. It's just less popular, and right now, a bit more expensive.

        MS is much better for ripped content than UMD, for one thing the battery life is better. For another, there are no plans for writable UMDs, and even if there were, the drives would certainly cost more than a MS.
        • by Jace of Fuse! (72042) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:40PM (#12167906) Homepage
          For another, there are no plans for writable UMDs, and even if there were, the drives would certainly cost more than a MS.

          The DRIVES would, but the MEDIA would not.

          There probably isn't any more than $2 worth of materials and workmanship going into a single UMD. Blanks would probably be about that price.

          I'd pay $500 for a UMD writer WAY before I'd pay for $500 worth of memory sticks.

          And for your information, the Memory Stick format IS proprietary, Sony controls the format, and the third party manufactured Memory Sticks have been less popular (as you pointed out) for exactly that reason. Even though 3rd parties (reluctantly) make Memory Sticks, they do so under strict conditions set out by Sony.

          The Memory Stick and it's relatives are not at all industry accepted standards. I would have much rather liked to have seen any of the other existing memory formats used.

          I think the biggest reason Sony has always loved to force Memory Stick down people's throat is because it can be used to employ some kind of DRM, but I believe many of the other formats can as well, so once again this is just Sony being their usual prick selves.
          • But why would you spend $500 on anything? Just spend $60 on a 512mb MS like I did, and that holds several hours of video. Once you've watched that, put on something new.

            And for your information, the Memory Stick format IS proprietary, Sony controls the format, and the third party manufactured Memory Sticks have been less popular (as you pointed out) for exactly that reason.

            By that definition, SD is also proprietary. You have to pay a license fee to the SD Card Association if you want to use it. The SD
    • If you open memory sticks to random third parties, you've just nuked Sony's business plan of licensing developers and games. Why bother dealing with Sony when you don't have to? Just sell CDs with the games on them to consumers, and let them deal with getting them on memory sticks.

      The current high price of the MS Duo makes this less likely to be an actual business plan, but if it ever goes down (and if the PSP is a success, that will happen), it could be a serious problem for Sony.

      A _better_ plan would be
    • by CDarklock (869868) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:54PM (#12167246) Homepage Journal
      Sony's real concern is double-sided.

      First, the reputation of a console can be seriously tarnished if it has a market glut of crappy games. They're worried that eight million bad developers will release eight million pieces of garbage, and people will be unable to find the good games without having to struggle through several bad ones.

      Second... and probably more importantly... Sony makes a boatload of money off their developers right now, and if they open up development some of those developers will jump ship and go it alone. The little guys who have no infrastructure of their own will stay on, but the big boys will undoubtedly try to cut Sony out of the picture. That threatens to leave Sony with all their high-maintenance problem children, while the cash cows move on to greener pastures.

      Publicly, Sony is more likely to concentrate on describing the first reason than the second.
      • Difference from PC? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tepples (727027)

        First, the reputation of a console can be seriously tarnished if it has a market glut of crappy games.

        Has the glut of Win32 compatible games tarnished the reputation of the console called "PC running Windows XP"?

        Sony makes a boatload of money off their developers right now

        Even if I could start a development house, Sony still wouldn't sell me a license and a development kit. In general, console makers don't even want to talk to startups.

        • > Has the glut of Win32 compatible
          > games tarnished the reputation of
          > the console called "PC running
          > Windows XP"?

          Yes. There are a lot of people saying the PC is "dead" as a gaming platform because individual PC differences cause unpredictable errors and give certain people unfair advantages, when the *real* culprit is bad programming. (Or bad design. It's hard to get a good gamepad for a PC, I've found.)

          > In general, console makers don't
          > even want to talk to startups.

          In general, star
          • (Context for moderators: discussion of the PC as an alternative to console platforms but with fewer legal restrictions)

            There are a lot of people saying the PC is "dead" as a gaming platform because individual PC differences cause unpredictable errors and give certain people unfair advantages

            Then does there exist a video gaming platform of fixed hardware (console advantage) that doesn't have a restricted bootloader (PC advantage)? Or with the demise of open fixed platforms such as Amiga, shall those a

            • > shall those advantages be forever
              > segregated in the marketplace?

              I think openness naturally kills the fixed hardware advantage, because as soon as you open up the software side to all manner of hackery, you inevitably find something for which the provided hardware is inadequate. This creates a need, the market perceives that need, and new hardware is produced to remedy the situation.

              > PS1 digital controller through an EMS
              > USB2 adapter works wonderfully.

              I haven't tried any of the console co
    • ...if the PSP was even more open. They could open up development, allowing downloads to memory stick permitting 3rd party games to be developed (think Palm) . I think this constant tendency of Sony shoving down our throats things like Memory Stick and ATRAC have really hurt them, instead of enhancing their bottom line like they think it would.

      Do you remember that the Dreamcast (Finest gaming platform next to xbox)? It was a most excellent system. It had great games. It spurred originality. Unfortunatly,
      • If people can easily make functional ROMZ, then the system will die.

        Look at the GameBoy Advance. You can buy a flash cartridge capable of holding several games for about the price of one game. GBA ROMs are very small to download - the average game is 8MB. Hasn't hurt the GBA though.
  • Programming SDK...? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by creimer (824291) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:37PM (#12167057) Homepage
    So is Sony going to release a programming SDK to the general public? And which programming languages are supported?

    If Sony wants to make a deep impact against Nintendo, they should open up the PSP as wide as possible to "non-traditional" programmers. Especially considering how much the ding-dang-thing cost.
    • So is Sony going to release a programming SDK to the general public? And which programming languages are supported? If Sony wants to make a deep impact against Nintendo, they should open up the PSP as wide as possible to "non-traditional" programmers. Especially considering how much the ding-dang-thing cost.

      I am not 100% sure, but I think the way they make money is by granting licenses to people to program games for their machines. I know Nintendo did that, and only certain companies could make games. I

    • The current hacks aren't people writing C and asm code for the thing. It's generally things like PC utility programs to resize jpegs, reformat video to mpeg4, converting text to jpeg for lack of a general text viewer, etc.
    • I think they might. They did it with the Playstation 2 with the Linux kit, which flopped, due to cost, the bundling of a "sony-branded" IDE hard drive, a very ancient kernel with closed-source drivers for the sony hardware, for $200.

      The PSP is without question capable of a linux kit.
      If they toned down the price and opened up the drivers (or at the very least, keep them closed, but
      provide compiled modules for newer kernels)
  • PSP needs a SD slot (Score:3, Informative)

    by zardo (829127) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:39PM (#12167074)
    One useful hack would be a sony memory stick to secure digital converter, I have 3 gigs of SD cards laying around I could be loading movies onto. The mpeg4 feature of the PSP is no use to me if I have to go out and buy a bunch of sony memory in order to do it, my 1GB SD card would be perfect (probably faster too).
    • You can rip DVDs onto the flash. With a 1 GB flash I can do 4 movies with reasonable quality compression or 8 with low quality. So not only can it entertain my 3.5 year old with games, but my 1.5 year old also with "Bing and Bong" movies.

      I use the software at http://makayama.com/ [makayama.com] which sells for $35. As long as you have enough memory it works well enough.

      • If you want it free (beer) I'd say PSPVideo9 is a good choice. They have a tutorial on how to recode from DVD source and from avi source.

        If you want to pay for it I seems more generous to give money to eg FFMpeg or the other programs these tools are front-ends for.

        I do find that the video quality on the PSP is really good. I still have to try getting a widescreen movie to work though.

  • another source (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drunken dash (804404)
    Looks like Wired almost copied this article here: http://www.wired.com/news/games/0,2101,67151,00.ht ml?tw=wn_tophead_8 [wired.com]
  • by Dark Paladin (116525) * <jhummel@NosPam.johnhummel.net> on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:46PM (#12167157) Homepage
    When it came down to the choice between getting a DS or a PSP now, the choice became the PSP. Granted, I'll get a DS later for other games that I'm interested in and the rumored Palm Pilot module - but it was the usefulness of the PSP *now* that interested me.

    I've been using it to watch movies on planes and trains, which is more convienient than even watching it on my 12" powerbook. But I can see where more can be done.

    With 512 MB RAM, there's plenty of space for both my saved games, little videos (2 hours of video is about 300 MB or so), and other apps. Where's a *real* web browser that could be hacked from Mozilla, or a mail reader program so I can check up on the go?

    Evidently, you can have "games" that run off the memory stick directly (or so it tells me when I'm in the Game menu section an it looks at either the disk or the memory stick), so why not just make those applications?

    I know, I could get a blackberry for some specific tags, but if Sony *really* wants the PSP to take off, they should release some sort of light development kit (either free or say $50). Let developers see what a portible wi-fi system with a good screen can run. Could Skype run on it? Maybe, maybe not - but let developers give it a shot.

    With a large developer market that's not constrained with having to worry about having a large development start up (like those for the official PSP games), the PSP could become a choice machine for all sorts of things, which would drive attachment sales and, via a sort of "halo" effect, to PSP games. It would be a win-win for everyone.

    But - Sony probably won't do it. Fear evidently keeps the managers in line - fear of this station. In this case, it's this gigantic Death Star circling around called "loss of control". Of all the things Sony fears, it's that Loss of Control. After all, if *they* can't control which applications get made for the system, what if someone makes money on Sony's device without Sony getting a cut. What if someone comes out with an iTunes client that can play protected AAC files and potentially take away money from Sony's ATRAC based store? What if monkeys come flying out of the asses of developers that Sony can't make money on! The horror!

    Sony *could* make the PSP the device of choice that way. Right now, I like the basic hacks that have come out for it, but if the DS gets that Palm Pilot add-on (with extensible memory via a MMC chip or something), then it might swing me to the dual screened little player, since there are a lot of Palm apps out there I could potentially run (like my eBook reader) and a video client could probably run on the DS pretty well. It wouldn't look as good as on my DS, but if it's "good enough" for my train to/from work needs, then it will be an easy buy.

    Sony has a chance here to break out. But I'm going to bet they won't take it because of their own fear.

    Of course, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.
    • With 512 MB RAM, there's plenty of space for both my saved games, little videos (2 hours of video is about 300 MB or so

      DVD's are over 4 gigabytes for 2 hours, and many people will only buy DVD dual layers that has the 9+ gigabytes of space. What kind of quality will you get at 150 megs an hour. That is like a 1 minute clip at 2 megs. I have seen porn like that, and it is awfully fuzzy. ;)

      • I meant "shrinking a 2 hour movie from the DVD to fit on the PSP is about 300 MB".

        I'm not talking DVD on TV quality here - just for the little PSP screen. Ffmpegx has an interface just for that, and it works pretty well.
      • That is like a 1 minute clip at 2 megs. I have seen porn like that, and it is awfully fuzzy. ;)

        But for a sitcom or an anime, is 256 kbps for video+audio at 240x136 pixels (QPSP resolution) really that distracting?

        Besides, erotic films are supposed to be fuzzy in order to hide the blemishes of the actors' skin. It's cheaper to blur the whole thing than to splurge on makeup ;-)

      • I compress down to about 200-250mb/hour and the quality is superb, not quite as good as native UMD, but far better than any other handheld device I've ever used.
      • "DVD's are over 4 gigabytes for 2 hours, and many people will only buy DVD dual layers that has the 9+ gigabytes of space. What kind of quality will you get at 150 megs an hour."

        MPEG2 isn't as bit-conscience as MPEG4 is. For example, a 90 minute movie can be saved via DivX or XVID to a CD at only a minor quality loss. Shrink the video down from 720 by 480 to 400 by.. well whatever the PSP's resolution is, you could easily get it down to 500 megs and it'd look pretty good.

        Personally, though, I don't see
        • The Archos has a better interface, is more durable, and doesn't force you to name the files in the form "PV00000.jpg" or "PV00000.mpg" in order to view them. Nor does it require you to re-encode using a weird utility - it just plays regular mpegs, images, sounds, etc.

          Yes, there's an Archos and a PSP laying on a desk in the next room. The PSP has a lot of emphasis on looking flash, and might have som egames one day. The Archos actually works well, and has a good interface. I see no benefits to the PSP a
      • The PSP screen is approximately a quarter of the resolution of a DVD.

        A DVD is full of multiple language tracks and extra features. You can easily compress the average length DVD movie (the movie only, with one language) into under 800MB to fit on a video CD, so if you take out 3/4 of the movie's video resolution to fit on a PSP, you're going to be able to get them significantly smaller than that. Seriously, this shouldn't be a big problem.

        A non-Sony 1GB MemoryStick Duo Pro (remember: must be 'duo', and mu
    • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:58PM (#12167288) Homepage Journal

      When it came down to the choice between getting a DS or a PSP now, the choice became the PSP. Granted, I'll get a DS later for other games that I'm interested in and the rumored Palm Pilot module - but it was the usefulness of the PSP *now* that interested me.

      A lot of people underestimate the usefulness of the GBA and Nintendo DS now. Like the PSP, the GBA or Nintendo DS supports its own proprietary memory card format. A GBA memory card such as the Flash2Advance or the EFA-Linker greatly expands the capabilities of a GBA or Nintendo DS system:

      • Like the PSP, the GBA can play music, through the GBA GSM Player [pineight.com].
      • Unlike the PSP, which can't run games for any previous Sony platform, the GBA can run most NES games, many Game Boy monochrome games, and even some PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16) games, in emulation [passagen.se].
      • Unlike the PSP, the GBA does not use digital signatures for programs stored on memory cards. Developers have created several homebrew games and made available to the public. I am one of those developers [pineight.com].

      The only thing you're lacking is video, but there's another peripheral for that [movieadvance.com].

      • interesting - I'll have to check that out. Thanks for the info!
      • The Play-Yan cartridge from Nintendo (presently japanse market, available from Lik-Sang) produces much better video than the MovieAdvance module and incorporates an amplified earphone adapter (indispensable when used with the SP). It takes SD cards and will hold a full movie in 512M or so. It also plays MP3s directly at good quality. Finally the cartridge only sticks out less than a centimeter from the GBA. Very fussy about conversion software but if 3GPP can read the input file it can generate an appropria
  • My thoughts (Score:5, Informative)

    by SilentChris (452960) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:50PM (#12167211) Homepage
    I got my PSP 2 days ago, and got a chance to spend some time late last night going over it. I still don't have any games, so my thoughts are tempered by what I can get out of the hardware. On the whole I'm pretty impressed.

    The good stuff:

    * Engineering-wise, it's got every piece of hardware you can think of. 802.11, IR, analog stick, USB, memory card -- there really is a "kitchen sink" approach and I like exploring the device to find new stuff. I'm really tempted to take the thing apart. :)
    * The screen is phenomenial. I really think this'll be the screen that all portables will aspire to. If Apple ever makes a video iPod, this is the screen to use. I watched Spider Man 2 last night and it looked fantastic.
    * I've been "pleasantly surprised" by some extras. For example, Sony packages a wired remote and headphones in the box (something Apple charges an arm and a leg for). The battery life has been better than I expected: after about 120 minutes last night of watching the movie it was only down 20%. The interface is excellent. The USB port is great because Windows sees the device as just another USB drive. System files are stored on the memory card, so they should be easy to hack. The device makes a great Wi-Fi finder (it found 4 networks in my home, and gave a percentage of their strength.

    Stuff I don't care for:

    * The front of the chassis is well designed and looks beautiful -- the back looks like it was done by a totally different designer. In particular, it feels flimsy. The discs are inserted in a tray mechanism that pops out, similar to a video recorder. I'm going to be careful with mine, but I can easily imagine a kid dropping and breaking it the first day.
    * I'm not sold on the media (UMD - Universal Media Discs). They're essentially really tiny DVDs stored in a cartridge, similar to when CDs first came out. Space wise they're fine, as it really looks like you're watching a DVD, but the cartridge looks fragile. In particular, they look like optical disk versions of classic floppies -- without the protective flap that gets pulled away. In other words, it's fairly easy to scratch the disc.
    * Certain aspects of the system are gimped. You have 802.11 but no web browser: the system only checks for new firmware (no official one anyway; someone's already hacked together a simple browser -- look through various articles). Video needs to be in a very specific format to play off a memory card: MPEG4, 29.97 fps, exact resolution (the system is much more forgiving playing MP3s and photos). The analog stick could also use a little work.

    I'll have a better idea tonight when I get the games (finally), but so far I likes what I sees.
    • Interesting stuff.

      When buzz started to develop about the thing late least year, I was pretty interested in how it would shape up. Apart from the dead/stuck pixel snafu that's been widely covered, I haven't heard anything bad about the display and it sounds like you experience was positive.

      With regard to media, I've always had a bone to pick with Sony on their desire to stick to their own proprietary formats. The memory stik was a pretty early entrant into the compact RAM storage segment, but nobody apar

      • Just FYI, both SanDisk and Lexar have Memory Stick memory. I rather like it compared to the other formats since the form-factor seems smaller than the others. Duo seems to be the smallest standard memory standard, although I have seen really small SD card versions (which did need adaptors though).

        I can say that the PSP is a worthy purchase. But they are pretty expensive.
    • The front of the chassis is well designed and looks beautiful -- the back looks like it was done by a totally different designer.

      Your complains are very similar to mine, but I would also say that the front of the chassis only looks beautiful.

      The front of the display is too easily scratched, and the black front is actually painted on the inside, meaning that the entire front face has that plastic glossy look that easily attracts dust and fingerprints, scratches easily, and goes from looking like it's wort
    • Engineering-wise, it's got every piece of hardware you can think of.

      It lacks an audio input. Shame, since VoIP would be really killer, wouldn't it?

      Video needs to be in a very specific format to play off a memory card: MPEG4, 29.97 fps, exact resolution

      That's actually a standard for memory stick video, which the PSP follows, but it is not exclusive to the PSP.
    • Video needs to be in a very specific format to play off a memory card: MPEG4, 29.97 fps, exact resolution

      Could this be the real reason for the delayed European launch? Video captured from PAL is generally 25fps, so would need framerate conversion, which unless you're prepared to throw lots of CPU cycles at it and wait a few days, tends to come out looking jerky.

  • by PxM (855264) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:51PM (#12167217)
    Other "hacks" include ... playing multiplayer games with only one copy of the game.
    That hack involves creating the WiFi game (I've done this with Tony Hawk) on one PSP, moving the UMD into another PSP, having that other person join that WiFi game, switching the UMD back to the original PSP as the original player starts the session (it asks you if you want to quit when you take out the UMD) and then the second player starts the session. It's not as good of a trick as the DS's single game/ multiplayer setup, but it gets the job done if you want to spend the time.

    --
    Want a free Nintendo DS, GC, PS2, Xbox. [freegamingsystems.com] (you only need 4 referrals)
    Wired article as proof [wired.com]
  • by kerrle (810808) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:53PM (#12167239) Journal
    It's great any time a device pulls a following like this and shows some unintended utility, but the PSP is hardly alone.

    The DS also has a growing development community, and most likely, it'll be the more fruitful, at least in the short term. For one, we can already run our own code on the DS - and who knows when that'll be possible on the PSP?

    I hope cool things do turn up on the PSP, but if you're interested in DS hacking, check out these:

  • This is just hype. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnuadam (612852) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:55PM (#12167260) Journal

    All the "hacks" released to date ( that I'm aware of ... please please tell me if there are others ) depend on the presence of the webbrowser in wipeout pure. Once you hijack the dns, it's yours. Everything else has depended on this. The browser, the IRC, etc. There is no 3rd party dev kit; no one has run a homebrew executable on the psp that I'm aware of.

    Even stuff the stuff to sync the iApps to the psp have just made images to be viewed in the builtin picture viewer.

    I *wish* very strongly to write for the platform that way you would a pda. It screams for it. Alas, not possible now.

    One final thought ... the "hacked" web browser can do javascript, according to the rumors. Maybe something there?

  • by ptcheezer (677747) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:05PM (#12167353)
    The Gamepark 32 [slashdot.org] is already a fantastic little portable gaming device and you don't have to worry about unauthorized uses of SDKs and whatnot -it's all open!
  • by Zigg (64962) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:06PM (#12167363)

    Opening the PSP too much could shoot Sony in the foot.

    It's well-accepted that at the price they're selling the PSP at, Sony's losing on every unit. Games and UMD movies are the route to profitability.

    Now I'm not denying the attractive power of the extra features, provided they don't comprise an overpowering value proposition. Viewing media on a Memory Stick isn't worth $250 to anyone with half a brain, so Sony's pretty safe in assuming that a raft of people aren't going to bleeding them to death buying PSPs and never buying a game or a UMD movie.

    Now, throw in open dev kits. Suddenly, the included 32MB stick can hold a web browser as well as games and software obtained freely off the Internet (or cheaply) that Sony doesn't see a dime off from. In fact, it may even serve to draw attention away from the games Sony does make money on in those people who would have bought them otherwise.

    So. Explain to me how this idea is a good thing for Sony?

    • So. Explain to me how this idea is a good thing for Sony?

      Its quite simple really. Sony makes the hardware. Hardware sales will increase as new usability becomes widespread as a result of the "open" software.

      Sony also makes the memsticks... Everyone will be buying a 1gig or 2gig mem stick as soon as they can find one in stock :)

      As the news of the "open" software travels, people will be interested in using it on their PSP. IF this "open" software, is usable, innovative, fun etc... It will further the li

    • Viewing media on a Memory Stick isn't worth $250 to anyone with half a brain...

      I must have something more or less than half a brain, then, because I enjoyed watching a rip of my "Todd McFarlane's Spawn" DVD on a 2 1/2 hour airline flight last night, which when converted to Memory Stick video format at 15 fps is totally watchable and squeezes onto a 512Mb stick with about 18Mb to spare.

      I need a 1Gb stick to store "The Matrix" or "Blade Runner" which come in at 527Mb and 489Mb, respectively. The biggest
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:11PM (#12167404) Journal
    "Today I have witnessed some colleagues playing a wireless racing game with imported ones in the office."
    Sometimes you import your colleagues?
  • by buccaneer9 (848820) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:22PM (#12167610)
    Three or four years ago, Bleem! developed an emulator which allowed PlayStation games to be played on PC's. The founders of Bleem! figured this was going to be a win-win for Sony - they don't have to sell their hardware at a loss, but receive licensing revenue from the game. Sony did not see it that way, and sued Bleem! out of existence.

    Further, note that Bleem! actually won all of the court cases I am aware of. However, the cost of defending themselves in court put them out of business.
  • Gibson Quote (Score:3, Informative)

    by cybergrue (696844) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:28PM (#12167725)
    The Street finds its own uses for things - uses the manufacturers never imagined.
    William Gibson [voidspace.org.uk]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is kinda off topic, but since we are talking about the BBC here, perhaps you'll all forgive it. The idea hit me the other day. Apologies to Monty Python.

    A customer enters a game shop.

    Mr. Praline: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

    (The owner does not respond.)

    Mr. Praline: 'Ello, Miss?

    Owner: What do you mean "miss"?

    Mr. Praline: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

    Owner: We're closin' for lunch.

    Mr. Praline: Never mind that, my lad. I
  • This press and the hacks are great for the future of handheld gaming, but I wish the Nintendo DS was getting this play, too. Web browsing on the PSP is cool, but how much cooler would the hacks be if you could use the DS's touch screen for keyboard emulation? How are you supposed to IRC with 6 buttons and a joystick?
  • ...is someone figure out how to replicate Namco Museum's multiplayer functionality, and use it to run apps designed for the PSP over your wifi.

    Namco Museum, which has such classics as Pac Man on it, can be played multiplayer, with just one UMD, because it beams the software over to another unit via the wifi connection. Like the GBA games that you can play multiplayer with just one cartridge. (And infact, in the GBA's case, people did reverse engineer that functionality to load games and software into mem

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