Original PSP along with Felicia Blue and Lavender Purple PSP-2000  (Source: DailyTech)

Even the metallic rings are colored  (Source: DailyTech)

The d-pad and buttons are much improved  (Source: DailyTech)

Metallic fleck in the colors make it look like retro car paint  (Source: DailyTech)

The display of new PSP-2000 units at TGS 2007  (Source: DailyTech)
Exclusive colors make Japanese PSP-2000 attractive

While the North American market on September 5 got its first PSP-2000, which is the newly redesigned hardware that is 19 percent slimmer and 33 percent lighter, gamers in Japan had to wait over two weeks later to get their new hardware.

The PSP-2000 launched in Japan on September 20, perhaps to ride on the coattails of the major gaming event known as Tokyo Game Show. The Japanese are apparently crazy over the new PSP, buying over 250,000 (or over 326,000 if you include the FF VII pack) in just three days after launch – and I was one of the contributors to that number.

I had no intentions of picking up a PSP-2000, as I rarely make use of my PSP-1000 as it is. It’s not a strike against the PSP, which I believe is a great handheld, but most of my gaming is done at home, so rather than play on a small screen with less than desirable controls, I’d much more often be found in front of the HDTV playing one of my consoles. But despite that, I caved and bought one (well, two, but the other was for a friend) Japanese PSP-2000 units.

Not like it was significantly cheaper to buy from Japan, but they do have one thing that we do not – snazzy colors. OK, call them girly if you want, but I’m personally tired of seeing all the monochromatic portable devices in North America, which come in such lovely shades as black, white or silver.

Yes, I bought something because of its color... call me girly if you want. But after having spent some quality time (also known as a flight across the Pacific) with the new revision of the PSP, I can easily say that it’s hands-down superior to the old model.

The biggest improvement is the new d-pad and face buttons. The old PSP made my left thumb hurt after just a short play period, and the odd feeling square button felt like it a crappy compromise. Those were my two biggest complaints of the old PSP – it just didn’t feel effortless to control. And if it’s one thing I require game controls to be, it’s effortless. There should be as little resistance as possible between what I intend to do and what actually happens in-game.

On the other hand, the new PSP-2000 d-pad protrudes more out of the casing and is lighter to the touch, making diagonal movements much, much easier than before. The face buttons now feel uniformly clicky, another noticeable improvement.

After returning home to my old PSP-1000, I was startled at how much heavier it is. Some people who have had time with both prefer the older model because of its heft, and by extension, its build quality. I don’t agree with that assessment. The new model feels solid and well-built. It may not be the tank that the old model is, which I believe made use of a metal chassis, but the system is meant to be a portable, not just a gaming brick.

The disc drive door isn’t as cool as before, but it gets the job done and I really have no issues with it. It’s not spring-loaded this time though, so gone are my days of shooting out UMDs at unsuspecting victims.

I’m a bit disappointed to report that the screen quality isn’t improved at all in the PSP-2000. Granted, the PSP already had one of the best screens in the business, but its response time led to noticeable ghosting artifacts.

By itself, the jump from PSP-1000 to PSP-2000 isn’t as big as the one Nintendo made going from the old DS to the DS Lite. But while the two DS models are identical in function, the new PSP has a couple new features. The added RAM speed up load times, which were noticeably faster, and the option to output video and sound to a TV is quite nice – though shame that cables to do that aren’t included.

For the owner of a PSP-1000, it’s a tough call whether or not it’s worth the upgrade. For me, it was worth it, but I didn’t even realize that until I had already bought it. I was just in it for the color.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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