Financial Times: Sony’s PSP No Threat to iPod

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Sonyis new PlayStation Portable (PSP) is no threat to the iPod, or even Windows Media devices, according to a review of the product published Thursday by the Financial Times of London. While the unit is a great gaming system, according to reviewer Paul Taylor, Sony has crippled the device with its own proprietary hardware technologies so much, it is just too difficult to use as a music player.

"Sony wants the PSP to be viewed as a complete portable entertainment centre capable of displaying digital photographs and playing videos and digital music," wrote Mr. Taylor. "But while the PSP makes an excellent games machine with a superb colour screen and brilliant graphics, the device does not match rivals such as Appleis iPod and Windows-based portable multimedia devices when it comes to video and music.

The review gave the device high marks for having a great screen, delivering excellent 3D graphics, and for its intuitive controllers and game menu. All of these make the PSP a good gaming system, but Sony has been hoping to position the device as a movie viewer and music player, too. This is not to be without some changes, according to Mr. Taylor.

"The PSP is riddled with Sony proprietary technology such as the Universal Media Disc (UMD) drive built into the device and used as the primary mechanism for distributing PSP games and video content," he wrote.

Without recordable UMD discs, there is no way to move video content to the device, except for the handful of movies that are commercially available, or by moving small clips via Sonyis proprietary Memory Stick Duo cards, which Mr. Taylor characterized as expensive.

When it comes to music, Mr. Taylor said there are even more issues: "Although the PSP supports both Sonyis own ATRAC3plus and the more common MP3 digital music formats, music can only be imported from CDs you own or from Sonyis own Sony Connect online music store. Even then, music can only be transferred to a special type of Memory Stick that includes Sonyis iMagicGatei copy protection."

Accordingly, Mr. Taylor concluded that the PSP poses no serious challenge to Appleis iPod dominance in music players.

You can read the full review at the Financial Times Web site. Note that the site requires a paid subscription, with a free trial available.

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