Handheld game devices are a great way to have fun while on the move. Instead of lugging around huge consoles - despite the various carrying cases available - handheld games are easy to carry and can be concealed better when not in use. Ever since Mattel's first single game handheld product was released in 1977, Auto Race, these portable gaming solutions have improved vastly in graphics, resolution and have even introduced internet connectivity. The two biggest names in the handheld game market right now are the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS. Sony's line of PSP devices has not done so well in sales compared to the Nintendo DS line, but is still a contender. The main reason why the Nintendo DS fares better with consumers is the wider selection of game titles. For the most part, Sony focuses more on the multimedia aspects of their device; you can watch movies (without an homebrew application as is the case with DS), listen to music and browse the internet. They've only just released internet browsing capability to the DS line in 2009.
The PSP 3000, some complain, is not a huge difference from the earlier model. The only big difference is the mic and an anti-reflective display allowing for improved picture quality while playing outside. Also, fingerprints can easily be found on the screen. Comparatively, the Nintendo DSi XL has a clam shell design so that fingerprints don't accumulate on the screen. Prices for a Nintendo DS are usually cheaper than that of the PSP, which maybe a factor on higher DS sales.
With all the hype around tablet computers and smartphones from Apple like the iPad and iPhone, Sony plans to release a PS Phone that has some of the same features the iPhone has, only this is more gamer friendly. The official name is the Sony Ericsson's Zeus. There's a full LCD screen, just like the one on the iPhone, but Zeus has a retractable control pad with the same square, cross, circle, triangle and D-pad buttons you see on a normal PS3 controller. It is said by Kaz Hirai, the President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, that he wanted physical controls to allow for more "immersive" gaming. So no touch-screen like the DS. Also, in place of the large analog sticks you see on normal PS3 controllers, there's a touch-pad allowing the console to remain compact. And although you can play games on the Zeus like any other handheld game console, it's not the much anticipated PSP 2 which is said to have an even larger screen similar to the iPad. This device has e-reader functionality just like the iPad, but I suspect PSP 2 games would be superior to any you'd find on an iPad.
If you want to know which handheld device is best for you in the current generation, here are some points of both the Nintendo DSi XL and the PSP 3000:
- Has Skype, the internet communication service, so you can talk to friends or family using the built-in mic.
- Superior graphics compared to the Nintendo DSi XL.
- Can play movies via the Universal Media Disc (UMD).
- Wi-Fi capable and has internet browser.
- Along with 64MB of RAM installed, it also has an SD Card slot.
Nintendo DSi XL:
- More game titles available along with the preloaded educational games you get with the device.
- Capable of browsing the internet.
- Has a touch-screen for use with the included stylus. The PictoChat software allows you to draw pictures and write notes to other people via Wi-Fi connection.
- Two digital cameras which you can use to take pictures and either share them with friends and family, or insert them into compatible games.
- DSi Sound allows the user to record voice, listen to music and manipulate the sound in various ways.
Once the next-gen handheld game console from Sony releases, the PSP 2, you'll be able to find a cheap PSP for sale since stores are going to want to clear inventory. So keep an eye out for lower prices, they may even go as low as a DS, who knows. When deciding which handheld console to buy, know whether or not you want more multimedia access which is a strong feature the PSP 3000 has, or if you want a wider selection of games, then you'd go for the Nintendo DSi XL. Either way, there should be a device that'll fit your specific needs.