Sony PSP 2: first verdict from the experts

Is the Sony NGP a true next-gen console?

Finally, the curtain is off the Sony PSP 2, and it’s been given the working title of NGP (Next Generation Portable). But does it look any good? Is a multi-touch pad on the back enough to compete with the Nintendo 3DS? And where does it leave the fabled Sony Ericsson PSP Phone?

Find out what we think below, along with some thoughts from other industry titans, then let us know your opinion via Facebook or Twitter.

Matt Hill, Deputy Editor, T3 magazine

As with the original PSP, it looks like a sexy piece of kit – touch-screen on the back has some intriguing possibilities and the graphics are obviously going to be great – but it may well suffer the same issues of its predecessor. Analogue sticks in theory are ace, but ergonomically it looks like it could be relatively uncomfortable to play again, and they are unusual protrusions in a world of super-slick, flat-form devices (prepare for a whole industry in third-party NPG cases).

And while clunky UMDs have been thrown in the bin, in an App Store world, is yet another, all-new physical game format really the solution with 3G and Wi-Fi on board? The PlayStation Suite mobile gaming platform is arguably more exciting, although does this mean that the hotly anticipated ‘PlayStation Phone’ is just a Sony Ericsson handset running PS Suite?  

Tim Ingham, Online Editor, CVG

Nobody can deny that the PSP2 is technically a hugely appealing piece of kit. The official specs show that it has more powerful processing power than some recent home consoles – and, according to Gears OF War creator Epic, four times the graphical prowess of any other handheld.

However, before we get carried away, we’d do well to learn lessons from history. It is not coincidental that Sony’s PSP2 (NGP) presentation yesterday contained the words ‘mainstream’ and ‘connected’ on countless occasions. Sony knows that it has to appeal to a less hardcore market than it did with PSP1, which was itself ahead of the curve technologically when it released. It is going to be a tough balancing act; on the one hand, it’s right to show off Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid and Yakuza, as they looked fantastic. But are the more social capabilities of PSP2 – many of them 3G and/or WiFi-driven – enough to woo people away from their iPhone or, more to the point, their 3DS?

The early marketing video is a Nintendo-influenced, colourful affair that hints at the family-friendly push Sony hopes to give NGP, whilst showing off its ‘PSP on steroids’ might to the fanboys. Can Sony be all things to all people. Only time will tell.

Marc Chacksfield, Deputy Editor Tech Radar.com

Sony has managed to create a seriously cool device with the Next Generation Portable. Packing a quad-core processor, massive 5-inch OLED screen and dual analogue sticks, the NGP is an absolute powerhouse in your pocket. With great power, though, comes a great-big price. Sony hasn’t said how much the NGP will be but if it is indeed as powerful as the PS3, then it is going to be very expensive. That said, if the specs are true, the NGP is truly the biggest step we’ve seen in portable gaming for some time and puts the rather gimmickry Nintendo 3DS to shame. Christmas can’t come sooner.

Thomas East, Online Editor, Official Nintendo Magazine

To be honest you can't really compare the two. While Sony's NGP is very powerful and boasts Touch screen technology, Nintendo's 3DS is the handheld that is genuinely groundbreaking. 3DS is offering something that has never been seen before - 3D gaming without the need for glasses. It was the same with the PSP and original DS. The PSP was the more powerful console but the DS offered something new and that, in the end, proved more attractive to consumers.

Mark Mayne, Deputy Editor, T3.com

The hardware looks like it'll cut it, especially in connectivity terms, but the PSP2 is up against some fearsome competition here. As ever, the games will be where this stands or falls. The ability to run 'mini-games' from the Playstation Suite store on Android and the upcoming PSP Phone as well as PSP2 might just be a masterstroke though.

Hannah Bouckley, Reviews Editor, T3 magazine and T3.com

'I'm not impressed. I'm glad the screen is OLED, but the resolution is lower then the iPhone 4, yet it is bigger?  I think the device is far too big, there's no way I'd want to use that on my commute and there are too many controls. Finally Sony has - again - introduced a new bespoke card format. Just what the world needs.

Joe Svetlik, News Editor, T3 magazine and T3.com

I’m dubious. The 3DS is just fun to play, which is what gaming is about. The NGP looks nice, but there’s nothing to get that excited about. That multi-touch pad on the back? Not convinced. The press release says it’ll let you “interact directly with games in three dimension-like motion” – 3D wannabes, perhaps? As ever it’s the games that’ll decide it, and the 3DS has that sewn up at the moment.

Adam Bunker, Staff Writer, T3 magazine and T3.com

It's undoubtedly a nice looking bit of kit. The part of me that likes new and shiny things definitely wants it, but I know I'll buy it and only play it a handful of times before I just forget to take it with me on the commute - much like I did with the DS. Ideally I want a PSP Phone with these specs but that won't rip through battery life for when I actually have to make a call.

Rhi Morgan, Multimedia Reporter, T3.com

The new NGP doesn't really offer anything that I can't get on my phone already. Sure, there are the stalwart PlayStation games but I prefer to play these on a big screen on my PS3 at home. Sony should have taken notes from Nintendo, at least the 3DS brings something new to handheld gaming.

Luke Johnson, Freelance News Reporter, T3 magazine and T3.com

Whilst the NGP looks both physically and technically impressive, I don’t believe portable games consoles have the longevity of entertainment or social factors that make their living room counterparts so successful. Lacking the a novelty factor by not touting 3D credentials will undoubtedly affect sales in the casual gamer market, Sony’s expected graphical superiority will appease hardcore gamers.

Michael Sawh, Freelance Features Writer, T3.com

After the Nintendo 3DS, I expected Sony to pull out all the stops for its next PSP, and there is definitely plenty of things to be excited about the NGP/PSP 2.

My instant worry is that should I buy one, it will probably after a month’s use on the train, be dispatched to the back of a draw alongside my PSP Slim. Mobile gaming has come on leaps and bounds since the PSP Go and I am more than happy to play a session of Angry Birds on my smartphone than having to worry about carrying another device around with me.

One interesting concept that Sony says it is working on which could potentially alter my view is the ability to allow gamers to play their game on the PSP 2, and then finish it on their PS3. For a PS3 owner that kind of connect between the devices would make a lot of sense, and would give the PSP 2 more appeal.

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