Sony's new re-brushed and buffed-up PlayStation Portable 3000 handheld video game system should finally be dangling from plastic retail hooks or resting in neat little rectangle stacks on shelves as you read this, but should existing PSP owners think about upgrading? The PSP 3000 is basically a point update to the PSP 'Slim and Lite', Sony's lighter, faster, slimmer refresh that arrived in September 2007. Recall that the original PSP debuted in March 2005, so we certainly weren't due for an update this soon, but an update we're getting, and one that includes a brighter, faster LCD display, expanded video-out, and a built-in microphone.
Let's start with the casing, which top to bottom and side to side looks virtually identical to the PSP 2000. Weighs and feels the same too. Have a closer look, however, and you'll notice some subtle tweaks. For starters, the 'Sony' moniker has been moved from the right side of the screen to its left, where the PlayStation logo used to be. Where'd the logo go? Look down at what used to be the 'Home' button, which if you think about it kind of makes sense, bringing the PSP into alignment with the PlayStation 3, which has a similar "master control" button smack in the middle of its wireless gamepad.
The next thing you'll notice is that the 'PS', 'Select' and 'Start' buttons along the bottom of the PSP 3000 are now fully oval-shaped and no longer oblong half-circles. Run your fingers along their tops and they also feel flush to the case molding, not slightly protruding, as they do on my PSP 2000.
Finally, just to the left of the letters 'PSP' sitting between the volume and brightness controls, there's now a tiny hole: the new external microphone that's supposed to make spontaneous wireless voice communications more robust, since you no longer need a special headset to rattle off taunts or make Skype calls.
Flip the PSP 3000 around and it looks identical to the 2000, save for the circular band of metal on the UMD tray, which looks to be about one-half to one-third the width of the one on the 2000. Aside from creating a sleeker overall look, I'm betting that it's meant to reduce the amount of visible scratching, something my PSP 2000 shows traces of.
The overall ABS plastic of the casing feels and looks more metallic and less plasticky now, with a noticeably reduced amount of reflective "glitter" in the molding's weave. The screen remains as prone to fingerprints as ever, but then, so do iPhones, iPods, regular mobile phones, digital camera LCDs, and when you think about it, pretty much any piece of backlit plastic you're bound to end up touching at some point or another. (Hint: You know the special cleaning cloths you sometimes get with a new pair of glasses? I have a few of those, and they beat sweaters, sweatshirts, button-ups, dry cloths, damp cloths, etc. every time for getting any LCD safe and squeaky clean.)