Trip the "on" switch and you're greeted by the same familiar logo and XMB interface, though you'll notice it now looks quite a bit more colorful, with enhanced edge-distinctiveness in terms of darks and lights, no doubt an expression of the improved LCD which Sony said would offer a better color range and higher contrast ratio. There's also supposed to be less glare, but to be honest, I never noticed the glare on my original PSP all the way back in 2005. I can't see much difference one way or another with the 3000, which is to say, it looks just fine in any kind of ambient light and outside of direct sunlight.

Click over to 'system' settings and you'll notice a new 'color space' option that lets you switch between 'wide' and 'normal' (don't bother checking the PSP 1000/2000, -- it's not available). Think 'vivid' versus 'standard' on a TV and you've got the idea. 'Wide' is enabled by default, and makes everything look brighter and color-saturated. It tends to make the text in the operating system look a little too vivid at times, but load a game like Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core and the new colors simply pop, making it even easier to identify 3D in-game objects at a distance or in shadow, and the edges of menu bars and fonts in crowded interfaces look even cleaner and crisper. The picture looks quite a bit warmer, too, bringing the overall look nearer the sort of hard-to-duplicate hue richness you often enjoy with a really top notch high-definition tube television.

As for the microphone, well, it's a microphone all right. Everyone says I sound fine when I use it to chat across the pond and bug family and friends vis-a-vis Skype, though I'm also told there's a bit of an echo (to be fair, that could just be Skype). No word on whether it supports noise-cancelling tech, but let's just say the mic's still not the way you'll want to talk smack in a friendly online match if, say, you're playing in a noisy coffee shop or cafe. In a bind, though, it'll be a lot nicer than reaching for and untangling the snarl of wires and jacks that comprise the PSP headset. Think about getting a call and at least being able to answer and tell the caller to hang on while you get the headset into position (as opposed to fumbling and tumbling and losing the call in your rush to plug in). I actually use my PSP as a phone here in the UK (in lieu of a Skype or any other IP phone) so I'm proof positive it works.

What about video out? I wasn't able to test this because I don't have the proper hookups, but the gist of the update is that you were already able to plug the PSP 2000 into an HDTV with a separately sold cable and play games on the big screen using the PSP as the controller. With the PSP 3000, the big change is that you can finally plug into a non-HDTV as well.

Verdict: If you're a heavy PSP user with wads of cash to blow, need the external mic, or want to play games on a standard TV, the PSP 3000 is the sleeker, visually crisper twin to last year's model. If you're an original PSP owner and skipped the PSP 2000, you'll see an even more dramatic difference upgrading. But if you're already rolling with a PSP 2000, your money's better saved than spent on this nominal uptick.