So I Bought a PSP…

…after my X-Box 360 succumbed to the infamous Red Rings of Death and after trying out an iPod touch at the local Apple store.

To begin, I should note that the 360 isn’t out for the count just yet, though as far as the people I bought it from were concerned, it can’t be repaired. The problem here is that X-Boxes aren’t sold commercially in most of China, so Microsoft Tech Support is unavailable. Thankfully, the shop I bought the PSP from says they should be able to repair it, so I’ll give it a shot this week. Such are the travails of a videogamer in China.

The PSP provides a stopgap method to satisfy my twitch reflexes, but it also gives me most of what the iPod touch has to offer.

Now, a serious iPod fanatic would scoff at the notion that a PSP-2000 could compete with an iPod touch. The touch (like the iPhone before it) features an absolutely mesmerizing interface, and that interface alone tempted me to buy it last week. However, setting aside the interface, the core feature set of the touch is — for the time being* — comparable to, or even less than, the PSP’s.

Let’s look at the details:

  • The PSP-2000 is only a little bigger and heavier than the touch.
  • The screen size (4.3 vs. 3.5 inches) and video playback are slightly better on the PSP.
  • Gaming on the PSP is better, which goes without saying.
  • The PSP lacks the minimal productivity functions of the touch, but I already have those on my cell phone.
  • Both feature WiFi, though web browsing is better on the touch thanks to the interface.

In fact, I might have bought an iPod touch instead of the PSP-2000 if I was in the States, but living in China adds a couple other considerations. First, iTunes is of limited use in China since my RMB denominated bank card account can’t pay for downloads. This cripples one of the coolest features of the touch — using WiFi to surf for and download music from the iTunes music store.

The second drawback of getting the touch in China is that, in addition to paying the “Apple premium” for buying the best Cupertino has to offer, Tianjin buyers also have to fork over an additional $100 on top of the $399 list price. The PSP-2000, conversely, has only a $30 markup, and with the 8 GBs of memory** and accessories I bought, it came to $281, as compared to $577 for a similar 16GB iPod package.

For all the beauty of the touch, I can’t ignore that bottom line.

* Obviously, come next year when Apple releases its SDK and developers can turn out legal, stable software, the touch will become considerably more versatile. Add to that a price drop and/or expanded memory and I may consider getting a touch next spring.

** Note that the memory is a Chinese knock-off product rather than real Sony memory. That said, a bonus for me is that I can use the same memory with my Sony Cybershot, increasing the amount of digital video I can shoot.