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PSP vs. DS

The next-gen portable war

By James Stevenson     June 25, 2004

The Nintendo DS is backwards compatible with all GameBoy Advance titles.
© Nintendo

After E3, I've seen a lot of buzz about which new handheld was better the PSP or the DS. There seems to be a lot of folks who have PSP-lust, and the Nintendo fanboys are all craving their DS. The fundamental thing to recognize is that yes, the DS and PSP have somewhat different audiences and target markets.

First things first, there's the price issue. There is no confirmation for either handheld yet, but it's believed the PSP will cost around $300-350, while the DS will cost $150-200. That extra two-hundred bucks is going to provide some nice functionality though in the form of UMD movies and music.

This leads to one of the biggest PSP questions, why should I buy a UMD version of a movie I have on DVD? I don't even know. Sony reps hinted that the company might go all UMD or may allow people to buy their movie online, and then download the UMD and the DVD images. The logical side says that going all UMD would seriously piss people off, and companies won't be so hot on letting people download the DVD images freely. This all just screams beta to me and I'm only sold on the game-playing abilities.

Both handhelds seem to revolve around the games from my perspective. The

The webbed wonder takes on street criminals in this screenshot from SPIDER-MAN 2.

PSP has more under the hood most definitely. It's somewhere below a PS2 quality, but without the cool effects. That said, a lot of stuff was still running on emulators, so it's hard to judge the hardware. Meanwhile, the DS runs better than the N64 creating a small gap that is somewhat hard to quantify.

Storage capacity wise, the PSP has the DS fist over barrel. The sleekness factor and screen of the PSP are also quite sexy. Both have wireless ability though, and the DS does have two screens, one of which is touch-compatible (and from a Tablet PC owner, touch is awesome). That said, the games were a bit rough at the show, but Nintendo did show more than Sony did playable wise. Total games wise, Sony probably wins.

Besides the whole UMD thing, there is one other potential problem with the PSP; battery-life. Sony mentioned that it will be somewhere between a gameplayer (12 hours) and a DVD player (two and one-half hours). Uhhhh... that's a lot of wiggle room. I'd imagine battery life right now is in the four-hour range, and that isn't even a whole cross-country trip.

Not that parents will be relying on that. They can't who wants to give a kid a $300 dollar toy they'll leave on the bus?

That's the big difference; Nintendo will still own the market, based solely on the fact that the DS will be the parent's choice. The PSP will have its following, but at the price, expect it to just have the niche, while Nintendo's mass market dominance in the handheld category continues.


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On Shelves


Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP).

one game worth mentioning next week and that is SPIDER-MAN 2. The game is a lot of fun to play, even if it isn't the most visually pleasing. I'm going out to Activision this weekend to get enough time to review the game for its release next Wednesday.

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