Sony PSP US System Launch – What’s in the Box and Can You Even Get One

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Sony PSP US System Launch – What’s in the Box and Can You Even Get One
Written by Mark Smith

Originally Published on March 18, 2005

With the calendar ticking away the final few days until the much–anticipated North America PSP launch, GCM wanted to give you the scoop on just what your hard-earned $249 US is going to get you next Thursday at 12:01am. But just what are the odds of getting a system if you haven’t already pre-ordered one? We decided to call a few major outlets and see.

EB (Electronics Boutique) representatives at the two local stores we called claimed that they only had enough to fill pre-orders. If you didn’t prepay, don’t even show up. Best Buy (who will not be selling them at midnight) had 80 units already on hand while Circuit City only had 20. The two area Wal-Marts had 60 and 50 bundles respectively and with a little digging we found the entire state of Indiana will have just under 8,000 PSP’s in all Wal-Mart stores, most are already there locked-up in the backroom. Target had 20 units already on hand, and the two local GameStops (Babbages) declined to comment on exact numbers but said that each store would have “limited quantities available for those who didn’t pre-order.”

Of all the stores we talked to they all confirmed a “one unit per person” policy so hopefully the price jacking and eBay profiteering we’ve all experienced with the PS2 launch and the recent Nintendo DS launch won’t be as dramatic.

Game will be plentiful with more than a dozen launch titles, many of which are already in stores. Game sales are already doing well in software stores where people who have pre-ordered and “know” they are getting a unit, while retail shoppers are taking a wait-and-see approach. The local Wal-Mart has only sold one copy of NFS Underground in the past 72 hours even though they have several titles and numerous quantities of each already in the display case.

So just what will you get if you are one of the dedicated few who have already pre-ordered your PSP or plan to get in line next Wednesday? There seems to be a lot of resentment about the PSP only being released as a bundle. After all, we’re talking about a handheld unit that costs $100 more than the PS2. We dug into the PSP bundle to find out exactly what you will get and if you will even want it.

The PSP box is large, or at least larger than any of us expected after seeing the compact box of the DS. But the proof is in the contents:

  • PlayStation Portable Game System – Damn, is this thing sexy, and it feels so good in your hands.
  • PSP Battery Pack – This 1800mAh lithium ion battery runs the system and depending on what you are doing can last 4-8 hours. It only takes a few hours to get it fully recharged.
  • AC Adapter & Power Cord – The cord plugs into the adapter, and the adapter plugs into the PSP. You can use the adapter to charge the battery and also play games on AC power, but not at the same time.
  • Headphones – A pair of relatively cheap earbuds. They work well enough but you’ll probably want to use your own headset, something you’ve already broken in.
  • Remote Control – Just like the iPod this remote dongle can be used to control music and movies. It plugs into the PSP’s headphone and remote slot, and has a 1/8″ plug for headphones – either the ones included or your own. A clip on the back snaps onto your clothes for easy access to your PSP multimedia while it’s in your pocket. Buttons on the remote include Play/Pause, Skip Left/Right, Volume Up/Down, and a Hold switch to lock up the controls from accidental bumping.
  • 32MB Memory Stick Duo – Not the more powerful PRO Duo type, but still plenty powerful for game save storage and video and audio playback. If you plan on ripping your own DVD’s to Memory Stick then you will want to invest in at least a 512MB Duo and serious movie buffs should head straight for the 1GB stick. Expect Duo prices to skyrocket in the next few months so buy early.
  • Pouch – A padded soft pouch with a PSP logo protects your new investment and frees up your Crown Royal bag for your D&D dice.
  • Wrist Strap – A white leather tether to connect to the hook on the end of your PSP. You can use the strap and pouch together with the pouch provided some decent protection assuming you don’t have a pocket.
  • Cleaning Cloth – A small gray micro-fiber cloth that keeps those annoying fingerprints off the screen – but then again, this isn’t a DS so STOP touching your screen.
  • Instructional Manual – This multilingual tome approaches 400 pages in length and can be used to beat back anyone who gets to close to your new system
  • Quick Reference Guide – The 16-page Readers Digest version of the main manual.
  • PlayStation Underground Flier – An advertisement for SCEA’s enthusiast service. Sign up at the site, and you can get a free issue of the Official US PlayStation Magazine and a lifetime supply of spam.
  • Technical Support Flier – A small yellow sheet on getting help with your PlayStation systems. Considering 6% of the Japanese systems were defective you might want to hang onto this.
  • ESRB Flier – Learn how the ESRB is trying to replace parental involvement with their kids with retailer responsibility.
  • Sampler Disc for PSP: Volume 1 – A video-only demo disc (non-playable) of PSP music, movies and games. If you don’t get one of the first one-million units (with Spidey) then at least you get a sample of the DVD video quality.
  • Spider-Man 2 UMD Video – The biggest movie of 2004, given away free with the first million PSP hardware systems sold. The movie is slightly reformatted for the PSP screen aspect ratio but only Sam Rami can tell the difference.
  • Cardboard Stuffing & Plastic Wrappers – Always save this for the duration of your warranty…just in case.

So, if this all sounds like something you want, pack a lunch, grab your GBA or NDS and head to your local retailer next Wednesday and get in line. Quantities are limited but at this time there is no real way to judge the level of interest, especially when you are going to have to drop $300 for the system and at least one game.

Sony has also timed their release to either coincide with college spring break around the county or even worse, launching the week after spring break to a bunch of broke and hung over college students – the prime demographic for this system. There might just be a few systems left in stores Thursday afternoon.

For those taking the wait-and-see approach, your patience is commendable and possibly insightful. We’ve already heard the horror stories coming from Japan about the faulty Square button and some units that eject the UMD disc for no apparent reason. Sony has acknowledged these problems but hasn’t commented on whether they have been fixed for the North America release. You might just want to buy that extended warranty if one is available.

Whether you buy this week, next month, or next year, the PSP is destined to change the way we play handheld games. With the bright crisp display and comfortable feel to the unit, plus the additional support for MP3 music and MP4 movies, the PSP is more than just a gaming system. It’s a portable entertainment center.

Look for our full system review and launch game coverage coming soon…