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Hands-on with the new PSP

We spent some alone time with the newly announced PSP redesign. At first glance, the system appears to be identical to the original system, but getting our hands on the system revealed that this is, in fact, a significant upgrade to the original. The most immediate thing we noticed was how light the system is: the original was in no ways heavy, but the new handheld is certainly much lighter, without making it too feathery.

The glossy new finish of the redesigned PSP is very attractive, although we're afraid that it might attract fingerprints much more easily than the already susceptible original. Regardless, the shiny new sheen makes the system makes the original look dull in comparison.

The new system is thinner, mostly due to the newly designed UMD door. Instead of having mechanical gears that force the system open, this system features a latch that must be opened by hand. The door feels much more secure than the original. According to John Koller, dropping the system won't result in the UMD shooting out, as it did in the previous system design.

In addition to being slimmer, the new system also has redesigned buttons that feel much more responsive than the original. The D-Pad and face buttons all have a little bit more resistance to them, making the tactile sensation of using the system that much better. Unfortunately, Koller explained that the analog nub is not improved, although we found that a brand-new system works better than our system from launch.

There are also a few more minor changes, such as the omission of the unused IR port. The Wi-Fi switch has been moved to the top of the system, where it's less likely to be hit by accident. The Memory Stick port was moved to the other side of the system, and is much more cramped. We're a little disappointed by that change, because it makes swapping the Stick out of the system a little bit more difficult than previously.

The new headphone jack (pictured, above) not only moves further to the left of the system, but utilizes a new pin system that allows for the system's video-out. Component or composite cables can be used for TV out, but Koller explains that PSP game output will only be component-compatible. Movies (of both Memory Stick and UMD flavors) can use either component or composite cables. The video output of UMD video is especially impressive, due to the UMD's high video resolution. Many people have forgotten that UMD movies are encoded in DVD resolution: 480p. We're certain that this new feature will make UMD movies more viable than they have in the past.

We're very excited about the new PSP redesign. Many were quick to write it off when it didn't appear to be significantly different from the original. However, it's clear that this is a significantly better system that not only looks better, but feels much better. We can't wait for the retail release later this year.

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