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FAQ - PSP Help and Tips

1. What is a PSP?

As its name suggests, the PSP -- or PlayStation Portable -- is a smaller, lighter version of Sony's PlayStation. It's not as powerful as the PS2, but more powerful than the original PlayStation, and it has a built-in screen and speakers so you don't have to plug it in to anything to use it.

2. Sony PSP System Tips and Tricks - Tweaks for Your PlayStation Portable

Get the Most out of Your Handheld

The PSP is the hottest little handheld around right now. The PlayStation Portable Handheld system is very impressive and plays great games, music and movies. Additionally, the system does have a few tricks as well. Here are a couple of things you can try, some are fairly simple. Please note you must be careful with some of these tricks and they will be marked by a * before the "how to" area. Due to the price and the sensitive LCD screen always use caution when trying anything below.

While these tips are listed here, please do not attempt them if you are uncertain about any aspect of them.

Jam to Tunes Using Your Car Stereo System Speakers

* Use the following instructions to play your PSP games and movies with your cars audio system. You will need a FM modulator, a cable with a male stereo 1/8" headphone connector at one end and split left and right RCA connectors at the other. The red wire with the 'in' line fuse goes to your car battery or switch. The ground wire grounds to the frame. Set the car's CD or tape deck to the FM frequency that is on the modulator. The frequency is usually 88.7 or 89.1. Plug the RCA connectors from the cable into the RCA jacks on the modulator. Plug the headphone end of the cable into the PSP. Turn on the PSP with the volume set at half way.

The PSP's sound goes through your car's antenna. No extra wires are needed nor are any other adjustments. Your games, music and movies will now play through your car's stereo speakers. Please note: take care when trying this and make sure you know how to use the modulator and know the right way to hook up the wire to the fuse box and ground wire. If this is not done right, this can damage or even short out the PSP. This one is for parents!

Changing the Save File Images

* Whenever you save a game, one or two pictures are created on your memory stick: ICON#.PNG - the 144x80 icon displayed when you select your saved file. The #, normally 0, may be higher if a game places multiple saves in one folder. PIC 1. PNG - the 480x272 background that's displayed when you cursor over your save or game disk. Knowing this, you can customize your save icons and backgrounds by simply replacing them with new . PNG files. However, make sure that you keep the new file less than or equal to the original file's resolution, or the PSP will cut off sections to make it fit.

First Connect your PSP to your PC. Then locate the save file you want to change. All saves are located in the PSPSAVEDATA folder, divided into separate sub folders to keep necessary files together. Once you've found the save icon you want to change, add .ori to the end of the file name, in case you ever want to change it back to the original. Resize the image you want as you're save icon to 144x80 and save it as a .PNG named ICON#.PNG - "where # was the number found on the file you renamed". Then move the new picture into your save folder.

Now, whenever you see your save files on your PSP, its icon will be the picture you changed it to. Use the same method to change PIC 1.PNG files to your own custom pictures, but remember that the resolutions must be at most 480x272. *Please note this is a bit complicated and could result in losing all saves if not done correctly. This tweak is really for those who have knowledge of using these types of files. Please use caution when attempting this or have someone that knows how to work with these files help you.

Choosing a Background Color and Keeping it the Same

The PSP will change colors of the background screen every month automatically. You can pick a color that you like and have it stay that way. Simply go into the settings and select the month that has that color, when it changes, reselect the month. Note: Your date will always be wrong, but if color and style is your concern, this simple tweak does the trick.

3. PSP / PlayStation Portable Specifications

Good Things Come in Small Packages

The PSP specifications look pretty impressive (see the list below), but what do they actually mean for gamers?

PSP on the Outside

Sony's PlayStation Portable is the most powerful handheld game console so far, but it is also the largest and heaviest (though the Nintendo DS is larger overall when open). It's also the nicest looking, with a sleek, rounded industrial design aesthetic. The button configuration matches that of its big brother, the PlayStation 2, except the PSP only has one shoulder button on each side and has only a single analog nub instead of the PS2's dual sticks.

PSP's Sights and Sounds

The PSP's screen is larger than that of other handhelds, with a higher resolution, so playing games and even watching movies is a visual feast. The stereo sound isn't especially loud through the built-in speakers (third-party manufacturers offer small external speakers to make up for it), but with headphones on you can hear every sound effect and crank up the volume to buffet your eardrums.

4. Top 5 Things to Do With Your PSP Besides Play Games

1) Listen to Music

With a PC, a USB cable, and a memory stick, you can download your music to your PSP and listen on the road. It may not be a big deal if you've already got an MP3 player, except instead of having separate machines for games and music, with the PSP you only carry one. You'll probably need a bigger memory stick than the one that comes in the box, but they're getting cheaper every day.

2) Watch Movies

According to some few reports, sales of movies in the PSP's UMD format are higher than sales of games. Regardless, the PSP makes a nifty portable movie player. You can either buy movies on UMD, or transfer your own DVD movies onto a memory stick. The PSP's screen might seem too small for movie-watching, but it's actually super-sharp, and the audio is great with headphones. And I swear I saw a laptop-sized portable DVD player at Walmart with a screen about the same size as the PSP's.

3) Look at Pictures

You can also download and view photos (or any other images in a supported format) with a memory stick. You can zoom, rotate, and move pictures, and even view them as a slideshow. It's an easy way to show your relatives your latest digital snapshots, without a computer. You can even transfer photos from your PSP onto your mother's PC. The possibilities of using the PSP as a portable portfolio of my art and design were a significant factor in my decision to buy one as soon as I did.

4) Surf the Web

With the system update version 2.0, an internet browser was added to the PSP's features. The "keyboard" might take a while to get used to, but if you've ever sent a text message on your cell phone, you shouldn't have any difficulty. You might not want to bother with websurfing at home on your PSP, especially if you have a desktop or laptop computer handy, but if you're out of the house, you can access any open wireless points. Why lug around a laptop when all you need is your PSP?

5) See in the Dark

You might consider this a stretch, but I've found the PSP's bright screen handy on several occasions, such as trying to sign an attendance form in a completely dark lecture theatre (I could never have found my name on the list if I hadn't pulled out my PSP and turned it on). Another time, I had to sneak around in a dark room in which my roommate was sleeping. I couldn't have found what I was looking for without waking her if it weren't for my PSP.

5. First Look: Sony's Impressive PlayStation Portable


It's black and shiny with clear acrylic buttons; it plays games, music, and movies; and it's coming to a store near you March 24. It's Sony's $250 PlayStation Portable, and after two days of intense testing, I've reached a conclusion: You're probably going to want one of these, despite a few minor flaws.

The first thing you notice when you remove the unit from the box is that big display.

The PSP's 4.3-inch, 480-by-272-pixel TFT LCD screen is absolutely beautiful, with bright, vibrant color on display during both game and movie play. Everyone who peeked at the PSP commented about how good the screen looked, and I have to agree, it's striking.

However, there are several drawbacks to the display's brilliantly shiny surface, chief among them fingerprints. Within minutes of opening the box, I'd covered the device with prints that were so noticeable you wouldn't need a crime scene investigation unit to lift one. I guess that's why Sony ships the special gray chamois cloth with the unit. I predict that the PSP will inspire many gamers to perform a new ritual: wiping fingerprint grease off the screen before playing a game or watching a movie.

6. Hagiwara Sys-Com Easy Recorder 2

What it Does

The Easy Recorder 2 from Hagiwara Sys-Com is a stand-alone memory stick video recorder. It's meant to record video from any video device with a standard RCA output directly on to a Memory Stick Duo or Pro Duo, already formatted for PSP playback. That means that the recorder automatically formats the video for the small PSP screen and saves the files in the PSP's file hierarchy, so you can take the memory stick out of the Easy Recorder 2 and put it directly into your PSP for playback. In other words, you don't need a computer at all to record and watch video.

The Easy Recorder 2 saves video as MP4 files, so it is also viewable on a PC or Mac computer, or on a Video iPod. To view the recorded video on anything besides a PSP, you have to transfer the video off the memory stick to the computer or iPod. The Easy Recorder 2 also works as a memory stick reader/writer, though, and it comes with a USB cable, so you don't need a separate reader to transfer the recorded video to your computer -- just plug in the Easy Recorder 2 with the USB and transfer away.

What's in the Box

The Easy Recorder 2 comes with everything you need to start recording and watching video. In the package, you'll find:

* the Easy Recorder 2
* an AC power cable/adapter
* an AV cable (RCA)
* a type A to mini-B USB cable
* a user manual (a pamphlet, really)

You can also buy a bundle directly from Hagiwara Sys-Com that includes a memory stick.

It's a fairly simple to get the unit set up and to start recording, though you won't be able to copy anything with Macrovision copy protection. The unit will record for up to 5 hours straighy and you can fit about 8 hours of video on a 1GB stick at the lowest quality setting.

7. How To Transfer Files to a PSP Memory Stick

Even if you mostly use your PSP for gaming, why ignore its potential for other things? Transferring audio, image, and video files to your PSP's memory stick using a USB cable is a snap, and will let you listen to music or podcasts on the go, show your vacation snapshots to your coworkers, or watch the latest movie trailers downloaded from the web.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 2 minutes or more, depending on the number of files

Here's How:

1) Insert a Memory Stick into the Memory Stick slot in the left side of the PSP. Depending on how many files you want it to hold, you may need to get a larger one than the stick that came with your system.

2) Turn on the PSP.

3) Plug a USB cable into the back of the PSP and into your PC or Mac. The USB cable needs to have a Mini-B connector on one end (this plugs into the PSP), and a standard USB connector on the other (this plugs into the computer).

4) Scroll to the "Settings" icon on the home menu of your PSP. 5) Find the "USB Connection" icon in the "Settings" menu. Press the X button. Your PSP will display the words "USB Mode" and your PC or Mac will recognize it as a USB storage device.

6) Create a folder called "PSP" on the PSP Memory Stick (if there isn't one already) -- it shows up as "Portable Storage Device" or something similar -- (you can use Windows Explorer on a PC, or Finder on a Mac). There should also be a folder called "MP_ROOT" (not inside the "PSP" folder).

7) Create folders called "PHOTO" and "MUSIC" inside the "PSP" folder. There should also be a folder called "100MNV01" inside the "MP_ROOT" folder.

8) Drag and drop files into the folders just as you would save files in another folder on your computer. Image files go in the "PHOTO" folder, audio files go in the "MUSIC" folder, and video files go in the "100MNV01" folder.

9) Disconnect your PSP by first clicking on "Safely Remove Hardware" on the bottom menu bar of a PC, or by "ejecting" the drive on the Mac (drag the icon into the trash). Then unplug the USB cable and press the circle button to return to the home menu.

Tips:

1) Image files compatible with firmware version 2.00 or higher are jpeg, tiff, gif, png and bmp.

2) Audio files compatible with firmware version 2.60 or higher are MP3, ATRAC3plus, MP4, WAV and WMA.

3) Video files compatible with firmware version 1.50 or higher are MPEG-4 (MP4/AVC).

4) PSPs with older firmware versions won't recognize all file types. Use the tutorial linked below to find out which firmware version you have, and check the firmware profiles to see what file formats it can use.

What You Need:

* a PSP

* a computer

* a Memory Stick Duo or Pro Duo

* a USB cable with a Mini-B connector on one end

8. How To Transfer Photos to a PSP Memory Stick

One of the great things about the PSP is that you can store photos on your memory card and then use your PSP to look at them later, or show them off to friends. I've even used mine to create an ultra-portable art portfolio. Once you know how to do it, transferring files is a snap, and will take you no time at all to get a portable slideshow set up on your PlayStation Portable.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 2 minutes

Here's How:

1) Insert a Memory Stick into the Memory Stick slot in the left side of the PSP. Depending on how many photos you want it to hold, you may need to get a larger one than the stick that came with your system.

2) Turn on the PSP.

3) Plug a USB cable into the back of the PSP and into your PC or Mac. The USB cable needs to have a Mini-B connector on one end (this plugs into the PSP), and a standard USB connector on the other (this plugs into the computer).

4) Scroll to the "Settings" icon on the home menu of your PSP.

* Find the "USB Connection" icon in the "Settings" menu. Press the X button. Your PSP will display the words "USB Mode" and your PC or Mac will recognize it as a USB storage device.

* Create a folder called "PSP" on the PSP Memory Stick (if there isn't one already) -- it shows up as "Portable Storage Device" or something similar -- (you can use Windows Explorer on a PC, or Finder on a Mac).

* Create a folder called "PHOTO" inside the "PSP" folder.

* Drag and drop image files into the "PHOTO" folder just as you would save files in another folder on your computer.

* Disconnect your PSP by first clicking on "Safely Remove Hardware" on the bottom menu bar of a PC, or by "ejecting" the drive on the Mac (drag the icon into the trash). Then unplug the USB cable and press the circle button to return to the home menu.

Tips:

You can view jpeg, tiff, gif, png and bmp files on a PSP with firmware version 2.00 or higher. If your machine has firmware version 1.5, you can only view jpeg files.

What You Need:

* a PSP

* a computer

* a Memory Stick Duo or Pro Duo

* a USB cable with a Mini-B connector on one end

9. How To Transfer Video to a PSP Memory Stick

Whether you want to show off your own video work, or watch the latest anime video trailers on the go, being able to transfer video to your PSP is a useful thing. If you can can turn on your PSP and navigate the home menu, you can transfer video files.


Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 2 minutes or more, depending on the number of files

Here's How:

1) Insert a Memory Stick into the Memory Stick slot in the left side of the PSP. Depending on how many video files you want it to hold, you may need to get a larger one than the stick that came with your system.

2) Turn on the PSP.

3) Plug a USB cable into the back of the PSP and into your PC or Mac. The USB cable needs to have a Mini-B connector on one end (this plugs into the PSP), and a standard USB connector on the other (this plugs into the computer).

4) Scroll to the "Settings" icon on the home menu of your PSP.

5) Find the "USB Connection" icon in the "Settings" menu. Press the X button. Your PSP will display the words "USB Mode" and your PC or Mac will recognize it as a USB storage device.

6) There should be a folder called "MP_ROOT" on the PSP Memory Stick if you formatted it on your PSP; if not, create one.

7) There should be a folder called "100MNV01" inside the "MP_ROOT" folder.

8) Drag and drop files into the folders just as you would save files in another folder on your computer. Video files go in the "100MNV01" folder.

9) Disconnect your PSP by first clicking on "Safely Remove Hardware" on the bottom menu bar of a PC, or by "ejecting" the drive on the Mac (drag the icon into the trash). Then unplug the USB cable and press the circle button to return to the home menu.

Tips:
Video files compatible with firmware version 1.50 or higher are MPEG-4 (MP4/AVC). Use the tutorial linked below to find out which firmware version you have (if you're in North America, you'll have at least version 1.50).

What You Need:

* a PSP

* a computer

* a Memory Stick Duo or Pro Duo

* a USB cable with a Mini-B connector on one end

10. PSP - PlayStation Portable


Just like the PlayStation 2, the PSP was designed to do more than play games, though playing games is, of course, its main function. So how does the PSP hold up in comparison to other handheld game consoles like Nintendo's GBA and DS? And is it any good as an MP3 player or a portable video player? Personally, I think it's a great machine all around, and I use most of its functions on a regular basis. Here's what I think in more detail.

PlayStation Portable versus GameBoy Advance

It's probably not fair to compare on older generation handheld to the sleek new Sony PSP, but I'm going to do it anyway. The biggest advantage the the GBA has - in its SP incarnation, anyway, is its size. It folds up to a perfectly pocket-sized unit, with most of the buttons protected by the system itself. When unfolded, it's got a screen big enough that most games show up well, though the resolution is pretty awful compared to newer machines. The SP had a better screen than the original GBA, and the GameBoy micro is even smaller and brighter, but without the advantages of a folding unit.

In comparison, the PSP is much, much bigger and heavier, and you need a case if you plan to carry it around, as all the buttons are exposed on the surface. I have to confess, though, that I've hardly touched my GBA SP since I got my PSP, and most of the games I have (save a few really old GameBoy Color cartridges) can be played on my DS anyway. I mostly keep the thing around for those old GBC games, and for nostalgia.

To be fair, for some games there wouldn't be any point in using a handheld as powerful as the PSP. 2D side-scrolling platformers, for example, look great on the GBA. Then again, they'd look even better on a PSP.

PlayStation Portable versus Nintendo DS


PSP vs GBA and DS

Nintendo's original DS is almost as big as two PSPs hinged together, but the two screens put together are barely as one PSP screen. The DS Lite is smaller and sleeker, and has a brighter screen than the original DS model.

Looks and heft aside, though, the two systems are often used for very different kinds of games. One of the DS's screens is touch-sensitive, which means DS games tend to feature touch controls. Some developers for the DS have also made use of the system's built-in microphone. The appeal of the DS for me is the truly innovative games that have taken advantage of the things that make the DS unique.

For more traditional games, though, I almost always choose the PSP (and despite the DS's innovative games, I spend way, way more time on the PSP over all). Somehow, the DS's split screen just doesn't play right unless the game is actually designed to take advantage of it. The PSP feels better in the hands, and that wide screen really can't be beat.

Of course, these are subjective judgements; you may think exactly the opposite. The only way to find out which system is best for you is to try them both extensively and see which one you keep going back to. Or, if you can afford it, why not get both? I did.

PlayStation Portable as an MP3 Player

The PSP does have some drawbacks as an MP3 player. It's huge for one (the photo compares it to an older MP3 player that takes minidiscs and a newer player with onboard memory). You also won't be able to play music you buy from iTunes, unless you convert it to MP3 first.

But there are advantages, too. When you consider how many different things this one device can do (games, music, video, photos, comics, etc) it doesn't seem so big after all. It has good audio quality and the headphones come with a remote so you can have the PSP stashed in your bag and still adjust volume, skip through songs, and so on.

Downloading music from your PC or Mac is easy even without utility software, and you can organize your tunes in groups or however you want. The 32MB memory stick that comes with the PSP is probably not enough memory for most users, especially if you're saving games, too. You can, however, buy as many memory sticks as you want, in any size up to 4MB, and the tiny size of the media means you can carry a dozen sticks in a very small space. Buying a dozen memory sticks would be expensive, of course, but the price of memory is dropping.

The PSP is the only portable music player I own, and I'm quite happy with it.

Playstation Portable as a Portable Video Player


PSP vs MP3 Players

The PSP offers two ways to get video. You can buy movies on UMD, or you can save your own video on a memory stick.

UMD movies are usually a litte cheaper that DVDs, but they rarely have any of the extra features. Usually all you get is the movie, but if that's all you want then it's not a problem. UMDs are much harder to find used than DVDs, which is a disadvantage. The quality of the video is excellent, though - orders of magnitude better than the old GBA video or those silly "Video Now" machines. Obviously a PSP doesn't have quite the quality of a portable DVD player, but then you can't fit a portable DVD player in your pocket.

The quality of video you save on a memory stick depends on a number of factors, such as the quality of the original and the amount of compression. File sizes are of course limited by the storage capabilities of the memory stick, but you can fit a decent amount of watchable video on a 1 GB stick. There are various ways of getting things like your favorite tv shows onto a stick for later viewing; a recent TiVo update even compresses the video in the right format so all you have to do is transfer it. I often watch video on my PSP when I have a lot of waiting to do, such as between classes.

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