You've seen the pictures of the system, the box, and the menus, so now it's
time for my initial impression of the PSP hardware. These are quick, early
impressions, so don't take everything you read here to be the gospel – I might
figure out something new that I like, or something that I don't enjoy as I play
more. The final verdict will be in our hardware review, which will come after
much more time with the unit.

As you may have read, some people are reporting issues with their systems,
such as: dead pixels, randomly ejecting discs, analog sticks breaking, and dust
under the screen. Unfortunately, the official PSP of PSX Extreme has a small
piece of dust
. It's a tiny, tiny piece, and it's at the top, center of the
screen. Fortunately, you can only see it when the screen is black. I am glad
that it's not bad, but mad that it's there. I'm of the opinion that the defects
are being blown out of proportion, but it's something to be aware of if you're
considering importing.

As far as looks are concerned, the PSP is damn sexy . The clear face
buttons are pimp, the glossy finish gives it a "don't even look at this thing
wrong unless you can afford to replace it." vibe, which is complimented by the
metallic trim around the unit. The silver PSP logo on the back is simple, but
still looks sweet. The only blemish is the bar code that runs along the trim on
the bottom, and even though it's tiny, the rest of the unit is so smooth
looking, it feels out of place – but it's a necessary evil.

The screen is gorgeous. Absolutely incredible. Stunning. Beautiful.
First off, the thing is incredibly bright; so much so that when you turn it on
in a dark room, you have to turn away until your eyes adjust. There are three
brightness settings, and there's a fourth, brighter option available if you're
playing with the unit plugged in. The resolution is great, small writing is easy
to read, and the colors rich and crisp. Four inches doesn't sound that big for a
screen, but for a handheld, it's enormous.

The analog stick takes a few minutes to get used to, but once you do, it
feels very comfortable
. It's not a mini version of the Dual Shock's analog
stick – it actually feels a bit similar to the nubs that you use in lieu of a
mouse on a laptop. Don't worry, it's got a surface large enough for your thumb,
and it's not difficult to be precise with. My only gripe with the analog is that
it would have  made more sense to place it where the d-pad currently is,
since that's where you naturally want to put your hands.

The clear shoulder buttons look really cool, but they feel a bit cheap. They're a tad bit loose, and you can wiggle them quite a bit when they are
pushed all the way down. If you can live with the shoulder buttons on the Dual
Shock, which get stuck quite often, then this won't be that big of a deal to
you.

The d-pad feels nice , though it did squeak a little bit when I first
started using it. As I played, it loosened up a bit and now it's pretty quiet. I
don't think that it's any louder than the Dual Shock's pad, but I think many
people are noticing this since they play handhelds with the sound off and hold
them closer to their face then they would a console pad.

I'm not a big fan of the battery cover, nor the cover for the memory
stick.
The battery cover is hard to remove, and it's not easy to get back
on. If you don't have a second battery, then you'll likely not care about this,
but if you're constantly switching, you'd better get good at it. The memory
stick cover has a rubber piece that attaches it to the PSP, and when you slide
the cover off, it just dangles there. I've got a hunch that this is going to be
a big problem in the future, but I could be wrong.

The ear bud headphones that come with the system sound really good .
I'm not an expert on headphones, but I was impressed with the range of the
phones, as well as their clarity.

The PSP's audio capabilities are very underrated. When most people
think about the sound in a handheld game, their first thought is probably
something along the line of "How fast can I turn it down?" The PSP will change
all that, since it's capable of virtually anything the consoles can do. This
jump in sound quality is almost like going from black and white to color
television. Once you get spoiled listening to speech and "real" music, you won't
go back.

That's about all the impressions for now. As you likely already know, we'll
be updating all weekend with tons of pictures, impressions of Ridge Racers
and Hot Shots Golf, and answering any questions you have about the system. If
you'd like to ask a question about the system, post it here in our forums , and I'll do my best to answer it for the Sunday update.

Check out all of the updates in our PSP series:
A look at the
PSP's box.

Inside the
PSP's menus.

A closer look
at the UMD.

The Evolution
of Sony.

PSP System
Impressions.

PSP and Other
Handhelds.

Ridge
Racers Review.

Minna no Golf
(Hot Shots PSP) Impressions.

PSP Q&A.
PSP Save
Icons.

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