PSP vs NDS
There is a ridiculous amount of forum posts on this subject. Scouring through them shows the devotion, foolishness, and bias of gamers all around the globe. Whether on pre-release or post-release of these systems, the posts seem to be an ensuing battle of belligerent individuals in a futile attempt at proving their opinion is fact.
When it comes down to the wire, however, which system is right for a gamer depends on the games he/she so desires. Neither system can satisfy everyone, regardless of price, gadgets, abilities, or hardware specs.
In common arguments that involve less flaming, the subject comes down to the hardware. Ignoring bias by company devotion, it is apparent that the PSP hardware is undeniably superior to the NDS hardware. Without going into specs, it is safe to say that the NDS is essentially a portable dual-screen Nintendo 64, whereas the PSP is a wide screen PS2. Simply referring to history, the N64 was in the same generation as the PSX. In handheld history (barring the Turbo Grafix portable and the Sega Nomad), it seems that Nintendo is always a generation behind the consoles. Sony stepped up to the plate and made the portable current again.
Besides the widely known fact that Nintendo places innovation as a high priority with their products, I believe that Nintendo was keeping the regular pace with the portable market. Staying behind in relation to hardware (with portables) allows a cheaper and more accessible product to the consumer. Although the PSP is up to par with the current generation, it also comes at a price that many consumers may not be willing to go for. The Game Gear and Atari Lynx faced similar issues in the past.
Thankfully for the PSP, it is more than a game console out-of-the-box. The ability to play movies in widescreen may tickle interest in those who want more than a "toy". Then there is the mp3 playback ability. This is an extremely touted feature in many devices today.
What's wrong with the PSP? Some of the PSP's strengths are also weaknesses if thought about objectively. The large screen is instantly impressive, but it makes the size of the unit a bit long to be fitting in a pocket. The UMD format holds a large amount of data, but it is slower and has a higher power consumption. The sleek black design is beautiful, but the beauty is short-lived as it is prone to finger oils.
Does the NDS have these problems? No, but Nintendo has a different set of problems on their hands with the NDS. Although the design is sleek for a Nintendo device, the PSP side-by-side comparison makes it look more toy-ish. In most places, looks are everything. The dual screens are a great idea, but the space between them makes it seem that the PSP has a larger screen (when actually, with the dual screens combined, the size is roughly the same as the PSP). Data storage for games may be a problem as well. The PSP is subliminally convincing gamers that they need FMVs and full-length games; the NDS can't complete with the storage space available in its cartridges.
Nintendo may be able to level out the situation by releasing their official music/movie player and creating PDA software for the NDS. The addition of these features could get more gamers/users interested as is apparent in the forums. Other than that, they will need to just pump out solid games.
"It sounds like the PSP is better." This is exactly what Sony wants gamers to think regardless of available games and portability. Even if the NDS had the best games in the world, Sony has already embedded its product in the minds of gamers. This is how they have beaten the competition since they came into the market. Why stop?
"Then the NDS is better." Nintendo knows it has loyal fans. But saying the NDS or PSP is better is not proper. Forum users seem to forget that they are insisting their opinion is correct. What they actually mean is, "The NDS/PSP is better for ME." But without competitive arguments, where would the fun be?
Currently, there a few decent games for both systems, but nothing I personally regard as stellar.
Most people are not kidding when they claim this device is "sexy". How can you deny it? It resembles a black sports car begging your desire for a test drive. It is sleek, attractive, and well balanced. The screen looks impressive even when off and the stylistic clear shoulder buttons seem to say, "I'm cool."
As far as the overall size, it's rather deceiving. It looks too big, but it's about just right (for playing, not storage). This deception comes from being visually acquainted with GBAs.
Upon using this sporty beast, I found a problem that bothered me. For portable gaming, I actually found the screen size too large (this opinion originated before I owned either system). I can feel flaming coming my way for saying that, but the screen is actually quite ridiculous. Personally, I think 0.5-1" smaller screen would have been a better balance. The current size makes the unit seem too elongated and to me it looks almost as ridiculous as a Honda Civic with a double-deck aluminum spoiler, or an SUV with 30" rims. I actually thought it was great until I picked it up and tried to play it. My session was short because it was uncomfortable. My guess is it had something to do with the resolution vs refresh rate.
For movies, the screen is 100% the perfect size and near perfect performance. In this size, nothing I'm aware of is better for portable video. However, I'm more interested in the gaming side of it because I'm not into movies.
The UMD disks seem bulky for a portable system and seem that they could be damaged easily. That open window on the back is just asking for fingerprints and scratches. Besides that, loading times suck, especially on a portable system. Again however, perfect for movies.
The analog stick was a definite plus. This seems to be a standard control to have (which I have just barely become accustomed to). However, it doesn't respond that well in my opinion.
As for removable storage, the Duo memory is compact and fast but very non-standard. My multi-card reader won't do anything with it without an adapter. I was given a Memory Stick adapter which works though.
Honestly, a DS is not that attractive of a device. I think this is mainly attributed to the flat silver color and the top section. The top section isn't smooth or sleek enough. As far as colors go, the new colors coming out do not look much better. Black seems to look the best though.
The overall size is about right for a clamshell. It is shorter than the PSP, but it is also taller (closed). I don't understand complaints about the NDS being so big; it really isn't. Neither unit is really a "pocket" device, but I'm more comfortable with the NDS in my pocket than a PSP.
The dual screens is the attention-grabber here. When I picked it up and booted it, I was instantly in awe. Multiple screens are a definite pro as I cannot live without dual monitors on my computer, so using two screens comes as second nature. This doesn't apply to many people (if you didn't know that Windows can handle multiple monitors, you are missing out!). I'm also the type that would rather have a map on one screen and the game on the other. Switching to menus slows me down. PSP supporters say the NDS "screen" is too small, but the combination of the two is actually about the same size of the PSP. PSP game developers could cut the screen usage in two to give a similar feature, but I doubt that will ever happen.
Having a touch screen is a great idea. We still have to wait for a real game that uses it (WarioWare: Touched! is not a real game!). I'm hoping Splinter Cell will work out well for it. The PSP does have an analog stick which could be used with a mouse cursor, but I don't imagine that would be very good.
Speaking of analog stick, I agree with the many people who said this was an essential missing feature for the DS. Especially since they are obviously releasing FPS' games. The stylus cannot replace this functionality no matter how much they want it to.
One thing that makes me mad is that there is not a link cable port. So now I can't hook this up to my Gamecube? As many I'm sure, I traded in my GBA, but now I wish I hadn't.
At least the GBA slot does expand possibilities, especially for those already into home development on the GBA.
I love the size of the games...now that's portable! I personally think you shouldn't need too much space for games...it's a portable system not meant to be played for hours like a console. The memory size may be inadequate for certain games however. It is definitely inadequte for high-quality movies or music.
Nintendo does make a device called a Play-Yan for the GBA (which works for the DS as well). The $80 device allows for movie and music file play back with a Secure Digital card. The quality varies per compression technique used. However, my preference is the GBA Movie Player, which is a similar device that costs less than half of the Play-Yan ($25 and uses Compact Flash memory). In addition to movies and music, it can display text, pictures, and play some NES games. For ease of playing legal backups however, I recommend the CF or SD version of the Supercard (http://www.supercard.cn). It allows folders and can play legal backups for PCE, GBA, SMS, GG, and more! It does play movies, but the compression is terrible.
That screen is just itching to be cracked and scratched to death. A cover is a MUST. Screen protectors could help, but from what I have seen, they remove from the image quality.
No other potential problems I noticed, although I have read some durability problems with the unit in Japan, such as the square button and random UMD ejects. I wonder if anyone has accidentally ripped off the UMD door yet...
Dropped it a few times and it's survived just fine. Unfortunately, the touch screen seems to get somewhat scratched. I recommend a screen protector for at least the lower screen.
A complete media package. In fact, other than UMDs costing more than DVDs, I think the PSP is best suited for videos. Music playback isn't superb, but it is good enough.
The stock 32mb Duo card seems to be enough to play with, but not enough for anything good. Be prepared to fork out costs equivalent to the PSP itself for decent storage space.
Wireless is good, and I've seen someone do an exploit to browse the internet. I think the DS would be better suited with its touch screen as far as that goes though. Too bad it doesn't have the ability (yet).
A non-media package. Made for gaming, which is the point right? I loved the DS the first time I played it, but I was sad to find a lack of PDA functions. Music and Video support would have been a plus. As previously mentioned, the GBA Movie player is a cheap answer to this. A Gamecube with the GBA adapter can use the movie player as well. Backups can be played at near full screen. However, without at least this add-on, the DS seems lacking compared to the PSP.
Nintendo or some other manufacturer needs to create PDA software for this unit. The touch-screen is begging for it, and that is something the PSP could never do well. There is PDA software available for the GBA (hence also available for the DS), but the lack of a touch screen makes it essentially worthless.
I've seen Wipeout Pure, Lumines, Tony Hawk Underground Remix, Dynasty Warriors, Metal Gear Acid, and Mercury. Lumines and Mercury are fun games. The others were pretty and all, but take too much time to play. I may give it more attention with titles such as Final Fantasy and Splinter Cell.
I only have the Metroid Hunters demo, Mario 64 DS, Pollarium, and Warioware: Touched!. The Metroid demo is great except for the short pixelated video clips. I don't like Mario 64 (that's for the g/f). Pollarium is a perfect portable game. Quick and simple anti-tetris. Warioware was fun for a second, and another great portable title, but it got old quickly (another one for the g/f anyway).
In my opinion, both systems fail with games the moment. It will be 4-6 months before we start seeing decent titles on either system.
PSP: Clearly the winner (no pun intended). Simply beautiful. Hopefully that blurry effect is less problematic in the future.
DS: Good; resembles the Nintendo 64 graphics. Ironically, the higher quality LCD screens highlight jaggies as opposed to the PSP's cheap screen.
For what's packed inside of the PSP, it's actually a good size. However, the length of the unit and the size of the UMD games/movies result in a lot of space taken up. It's not as compact as you might think. Carrying cases have to be larger and more padded to protect that screen as well.
It may be a bit thicker than the PSP when it is closed, but it can fit into tighter spaces. The screens are self-protecting when not in use as well. Seemingly how the games are slightly larger than a SD memory card, the DS is the winner here. I have a nice little tote that will hold 8+ games, headphones, GBA Movie Player and more. A similar PSP bag will have you lucky to get 1-3 games in it.
Good luck whipping the PSP out at work and making it look like you are doing something important. With the DS, you can pretend it's a PDA for now. If it does become one, this will be a device you can use ANYTIME.
However, the PSP is definitely a "show me off" device. I catalog it with ipods. ipods are neat looking and everything, but they are not as convenient as a regular MP3 player (controls, conversion software, size). To me, they seem to be more of a status symbol than a "better device". If you ask me, MP3's belong in cell phones.
I am a firm believer that portable gaming should be provide short and fast entertainment. It is not an arena for lengthy or intense games. If time is available for a long game, use a television and a console. Staring at either the PSP or DS screen for too long is a bad thing.
My room mate got rid of his XBox and purchased a PSP. Now he thinks he can do all of his gaming on the PSP. Between you and me, he never plays it for more than 15-30 minutes. Most of the time he plays at home anyway!
He can pretend Metal Gear Acid is so great on his PSP screen, but I'll continue to enjoy Xbox Chaos Theory on my 27" television.(Author note - 05/11/2006: This room mate has since repurchased and Xbox and a PS2)
In conclusion, which device you pick up depends on what you want out of a portable device. If you have money to spare, want to watch movies on the go, look cool, and playing lengthy games then get a PSP.
If you have limited funds and want a system geared toward portable gaming, then pick up a DS. Those looking for a new experience with gaming should go this route as well. When you get more funds you can get the gadgets for those multimedia features if you think they are important.
Although I support the DS, I have given the PSP praise where it is due. I will still get one, but I don't see myself using it that much. Here is a good article about where the PSP fails.Why the PSP sucks
In conclusion, the DS provides what I want out of a portable gaming device. But given the PSP's abilities, it is easy to see why they are touted as the dominating handheld. I believe the PSP is a superior device, but it can't satisfy everyone.