Released back in 2004, the original Sony PlayStation Portable redefined the portable games console with hardware capable of PS2-quality graphics, demonstrated with great effect in launch title Ridge Racer.
A new model, the PSP 2000 (also known as the PSP Slim), was introduced three years later and featured a design that was 33% lighter and 19% slimmer. The PSP 3000 was next the following year, adding an improved LCD screen with five times the contrast ratio and a built-in microphone for the first time, and then the smaller PSP Go was launched in 2009 which eliminated the UMD drive to support downloaded games only.
Originally dubbed the NGP (Next Generation Portable), the PlayStation Vita is essentially the PSP2 and it’s set to again redefine handheld gaming expectations with graphics that are near PS3-quality. An exciting range of top games have already been announced for the PS Vita, including Killzone and Uncharted, but as it goes head-to-head with the new Nintendo 3DS, how does it also compare to the existing PSP 3000 and PSP Go consoles?
PlayStation Vita and PSP Graphics and Sound
Featuring a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and with performance boosted by a quad-core Power VR graphics processor, the PS Vita is a huge leap over any PlayStation Portable and is capable of displaying 960 x 544 pixels in 16 million colours on its super-bright 5-inch OLED display.
Both the PSP 3000 and PSP Go are based on technology first introduced in the original PlayStation Portable back in 2004 and so can’t come near to matching the power of the PS Vita. They feature two obsolete CPUs that run at a mere 333MHz and a GPU that runs at only half that speed and with resolutions of just 480 x 272 pixels on far less impressive LCD displays, they can’t compete on either speed or graphics quality. The PSP 3000 has an LCD screen measuring 4.3-inches and the PSP Go features a 3.8-inch screen.
All PSP models and the PS Vita have built-in stereo speakers.
PlayStation Vita and PSP Portability Comparisons
With a width of 5-inches, a height of just 2.7-inches and weighing under 160 grams, the PSP Go is by far the most portable of the three handheld gaming consoles as it has no physical storage medium and supports downloads only.
Due to its larger display, the PSP 3000 is much wider than the PSP Go at 6.7-inches but its height is only slightly larger at 2.8-inches and its weight is still an impressive 189 grams. The PS Vita is much bigger than both current PSP consoles as it has a width of 7.2-inches, partly because its display alone is the same width as a PSP Go.
Vertically, it’s also bigger at 3.3-inches but it’s actually thinner than a PSP 3000. The weight is currently unknown. The Kotaku Web site has a comparison showing the Sony PS Vita besides the PSP 3000, PSP Go, Apple iPhone and Nintendo 3DS and DSi.
Battery life is also important when considering the portability of a handheld gaming console. The PSP 3000 and PSP Go give 4-7 hours of enjoyment on a single charge but that depends on usage and although battery life for the PS Vita is currently unknown it is believed to be 4-5 hours instead.
PlayStation Vita and PSP Games Compatibility
The PSP 3000 uses the same proprietary Universal Media Disc (UMD) format introduced in the original PlayStation Portable so it’s compatible with all PSP games in that format. It also supports the downloading of games from the PlayStation Store and these can be saved to memory stick.
By contrast, the PSP Go has 16GB of internal flash memory but no UMD drive and so only supports digital games distribution. But it’s important to note that although the PSP Go hardware is essentially identical to the PSP 3000, the number of games available to download is far less than the number that can be purchased on UMD, although the latest games do usually appear on the PlayStation Store as well.
Featuring entirely new hardware, games written for the new PS Vita won’t run on any previous PlayStation Portable, including the PSP 3000 and PSP Go. It is, however, backwards compatible with any existing PSP games available to download from the PlayStation Store but has no UMD drive. Alongside the Xperia PLAY mobile phone, the PS Vita is also compatible with the new PlayStation Suite.
Other PlayStation Vita and PSP Features
The PSP 3000 and PSP Go both have built-in Wi Fi which provides connectivity with the PlayStation Store and Web sites accessed using the included browser, plus built-in microphones which can be used for Skype. The PS Vita has these features as well, plus a touchscreen on the front and a touchpad on the rear which can also be used for controlling the actionin games.
Sixaxis motion control is also included, plus built-in GPS for location-based gaming, both front and rear cameras and, crucially, two analogue sticks (instead of one). There will also be a version with built-in 3G and as well as compatibility with the PlayStation Store and PlayStation Suite, the PS Vita also uses proprietary flash cards that will be available in either 2GB or 4GB formats. Sony has announced that boxed retail versions of games will be available on the same day as downloaded versions.
The PS Vita will retail at a price higher than the current PSP 3000 and PSP Go but at $250 for the WiFi version it’s the same as the new Nintendo 3DS. However, with far greater features thanks to its advanced technology, together with some great-looking exclusive games like new Killzone and Uncharted, the PS Vita is probably worth waiting for if you’re looking to buy a PlayStation Portable.