The Web on the Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable)

My nephew, Gio, flew in from Virginia with a PSP on hand. He was watching a movie on the gadget’s small yet crisp TFT screen (4.3 inch, 16:9 widescreen at 480 x 272 pixel and 16.77 million colors) via a UMD (Universal Media Disc) video inserted on the drive.

English: A Sony memory stick pro duo. 2GB.
English: A Sony memory stick pro duo. 2GB. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The $250 handheld gaming console also has USB 2.0, an infra-red (IrDA) port, a slot for a Memory Stick PRO Duo (another Sony-proprietary format that looks like a copy of the SD (Secure Digital) card) and, interestingly, IEEE 802.11b or Wi-Fi at 11 Mbps. Note that Bluetooth was not built-in.

Curiously, the device also sports an interface that looks like a copy of Apple’s Mac OS X, sans the dock. Indeed, “Sony loves to copy Apple products to death,” as Steve Jobs (Apple’s CEO) is wont to say.

Although WiFi was built-in, the PSP’s OS lacked a browser. Connectivity was included to, basically, enable the device to have firmware updates. Configuring the unit to hook-up to the wireless network was relatively easy except for the entry of all the information required. You must be a savvy ‘text’-er (aka, SMS) to breeze through any data-entry process on the PSP.

But, the lack of a browser on the PSP is not a deterrent for veteran netheads. Using the game called “Wipeout Pure” (also in UMD format) and the old web server trick of ‘DNS-spoofing,’…yes, you can use the PSP for ‘simple’ web surfing.

Don’t expect web pages to appear in all its glory on the device’s small yet impressive TFT screen. Most of the standards in the ever-changing world of the Web are not yet supported in the browser inside “Wipeout Pure”. These, plus the use of the controls in the PSP to act as your keyboard make web-browsing on the PSP very cumbersome.
Kupitero's Keep main page as seen on the Sony PSP.  Note the 'square' format of the images - CSS is not supported on the browser hidden in the game.
It will not take long for Sony (as well as, hackers) to integrate a built-in browser in the OS via their updates. A small keyboard can truly help as well for easier web access.
But, hey, the PSP was primarily created to be a nifty portable gaming device and not as a notebook or some sort of a ‘web-pad’. Having the capability to sniff-out free WiFi hotspots built-in on the unit makes the PSP an attractive alternative to carrying that bulky laptop!

UPDATE: Yesterday, Aug. 24, 2005, almost two months after this original posting – Sony officially announced the inclusion of a web browser in the OS via a software update.
PSP owners no longer have to purchase ‘Wipeout Pure’ just to surf the Web!

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