I recently saw an advert for the new Sony PSP E1000 handheld console. This is a little confusing as I thought the PS Vita - a handheld device that seems to have had every conceivable theory for the way we play games and digitally interact with each other crammed into a foot of plastic, wires, and circuit boards - was going to be the next Playstation release. Upon investigation I discover that the Vita has been delayed until February next year. Sony say they have 80+ PS Vita games in production so the assumption is they need more time. Since the official reveal of the Vita at this summer's E3, Sony have always said they were going to release a bumper bundle of games to coincide with the launch of the Vita. A lesson that the gaming world has seen Nintendo come undone by: The Wii and the 3DS had a very limited range of games when they launched which may explain their respective rise and fall.
Faced with the vision of PS Vita shaped holes in billions of Christmas stockings, Sony have released a new PSP model, the PSP E1000; marketed as a no frills gaming machine.
I held off on getting a PSP because the Vita was penciled for release this year and I find the idea of a gadget-less Christmas nightmarish, so I was curious about the E1000 and the £90 price tag held extra appeal.
Sony have always been ahead of the curve; their devices were built for interconnectivity long before it became the norm and I am always surprised by the innovation behind their products. For example, the PSP family of devices come with features like remote play which allows you to stream content from your PS3 to your PSP using wi-fi and bluetooth. Also, Sony's latest range of Android powered tablet PCs; the Sony S and Sony P are 'Playstation Certified' devices which means you can connect to the Playstation Store and download Playstation games converted onto the Android platform.
I think you will agree I had a degree of expectation that Sony would deliver something spectacular to keep gamers interested and buying their products over the Christmas period. A device that bridged the gap between the PSP and the PS Vita. Oh how I was wrong.
When I looked up the spec for the E1000 I was shocked to find it lacking wi-fi and bluetooth. In fact the only way to access the Playstation Store for game and system updates is to connect it to your computer (via USB) and download the update with a programme called Media Go. I own a Macbook and Media Go IS NOT Mac compatible. I think you will agree, reader, that I was not impressed. The E1000 feels like a step backwards; the Sony equivalent of Nintendo re-releasing the Game Boy Colour.
Then I remembered that generally speaking (and this is a MASSIVE generalisation) people who care about multiplayer and wi-fi and connectivity are people around my age (late 20s) and younger. Whereas there are people like my mum who are interested in gaming, are reasonably computer literate and simply want to play games. Or grannies who want to buy a cool toy for little Billie who has just turned eight and really wants a PSP, but granny doesn't want to spend all her pension on something she doesn't understand.
Then I thought: MY GOD, Sony are geniuses. Instead of simply battening down the hatches and waiting till February for their latest handheld to hit the market, they have relaunched the PSP designed for new customers in a belt-tightening economy. This is especially good for Sony considering the recent news of Nintendo's falling profits.
As a concerned tax payer and technology observer, I respect Sony for their foresight in keeping their product fresh and potentially introducing it to a new market. However, as a gamer, I will not be buying the E1000, I will be buying the PSP 3000 instead.
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