I’ve been sick all week. My head is still spinning. I didn’t even get to go to the comic shop. Good thing I wrote most of this before I went down.

I’m going to continue my story about the worst “out of the box” experience ever for an electronic item that I’ve purchased. My new Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) Star Wars Special Edition hand held game console.

The first problem I noticed upon opening the package was this: no memory stick. When I first put the PSP on my Amazon wish list, back in September, it was a special edition because it came with a game and a one gig memory stick. My friend had purchased the Daxter special edition PSP before Christmas and it indeed came with a one gig memory stick. I went back and checked the Amazon description and a memory stick was no longer mentioned in the rather lengthy write up. Damn! Fooled me. They must have taken the memory stick away after Christmas.

The problem with having no memory stick is that I couldn’t save a game. I could start all the games I wanted to but I could only play as far as I could get in one sitting. That’s not how games are designed these days. Even the original PSP came with a little memory stick for just that purpose. I already dropped $200 bucks on this thing and now I needed to spend more. Annoying.

I checked around some local stores and the cheapest price I could find was at Staples. About $35 for a two gig stick. Fairly pricey. You see the PSP uses a Sony proprietary “Memory Stick” that is more expensive than SD or flash memory. I thought I could do better than that and went home to check the internet. Turns out that Staples had a pretty good price on that stick. But luckily with a little looking around on Ebay I was able to score a four gig card on Ebay for $45 shipping included. Much better but it was a week until I got my stick.

The second problem was that, despite some nice reviews, I really didn’t care for the Star Wars game. I had read, but forgotten, that the PSP didn’t do first person shooters (FPS) very well. This is because modern console video game controllers have two analog joysticks. In FPS games one analog stick controls where you go and the second controls where you aim your gun. The PSP only has one analog stick. In the Star Wars game it controlled where you went but you could only shoot in the middle of the screen. There is no joystick available to aim with. They tried to get around this by using another button as a “lock on target” button but I didn’t find that very satisfying. Couple that with not being able to save the game and it make for a bad video game experience.

The third problem was the software interface and such. The PSP was made to display pictures, video, and surf the web. I’m a Mac guy and have been working on Apple computers for well over a decade. Apple makes nice user friendly software and recently I bought an iPod Touch that is a joy to use. Not so the PSP. The software is a bit clunky and not very intuitive. I had problems getting it onto my wireless network but I worked it out in the end but just try to get video working on this thing.

I’m no novice when it come to video and computers. I have all sorts of programs, codecs, and add ons to make video play on my Mac. I’ve got an El Gato Turbo hardware add on that just makes Mpeg4s. I regularly use four software programs that format and compress video. They all have settings for the PSP and still all the test video I converted didn’t play on the thing. Some did and some didn’t. Why? Who knows?

The PSP is also supposed to display photos. That shouldn’t be too hard, right? I dropped about a hundred jpegs onto it and it displayed about ten of them. The rest were a no go. Turns out that if the photos are too big it won’t display them. It would have been nice if that was documented somewhere in the manual. Even Sony’s website was little help. I finally found the jpeg info I needed on some unofficial PSP site. Bad support and I had to get things going on my own.

I have no real reason to surf the web on my PSP and it’s a good thing I don’t. The web browser is clunky and viewing web pages is a chore. Sites aren’t really modified for the PSP so it’s not a particularly good experience. My iPod Touch does web browsing a whole lot better.

Here is an interesting thing. I haven’t bought a case for my PSP yet. I’m not planning on bringing it anywhere and just want to keep the screen clean as it sits on the end table next to me. I was putting a micro fiber cloth on top of the screen as it sat there but it still had dust on its screen every time I picked it up. Recently I bought some lint free white gloves for handling photo negatives. I now put the PSP inside one of the gloves as it sits there. It works great. There is no dust on the screen when I pick it up.

All in all the PSP was such a frustrating out of the box experience that I almost returned it. But I kept calm, spent more money, found a couple of cheap (and better) games, and now I’m happy with it. I still haven’t figure out the video end but who cares. My iPod Touch does that better anyway.