free html hit counter

Thursday, December 23, 2004

To PSP or Not to PSP

This past week I got to actually play a Sony PSP that a friend brought over from Japan. After reading the early reviews, I was fully prepared to dislike it.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.

The unit feels solid and substantial. Yes, the front panel could be a fingerprint magnet, but at least during normal play it's not difficult to avoid smudging the screen. The disk and battery covers didn't look or feel like they were on the verge of popping open. It also easily survived a 3 foot drop onto a hardwood floor, albeit inside the padded case.

Here's the key to the PSP: it is designed to be a no-compromise game console, and it very nearly succeeds. All the Gameboys are great portable systems, but few people would seriously compare the game experiences to console games. There are just some genres that haven't translated well to small screens. Based on my experience, the PSP transcends that and provides a genuine console-quality experience. Ridge Racer is somewhere between PS1 and PS2 quality, and much closer to the latter.

It's a far different experience from the DS. We may very well see some new touch-based game experiences on the DS, but they will still be handheld-oriented games. On the PSP we can expect to see essentially the same experiences we have on consoles.

Which is better? I really can't say, since it will probably depend on personal preference. I can say this, though: my prediction is that the PSP is what you'll see NBA players and rap stars playing on TV. It's the Cadillac Escalade of handhelds. Take that for what it's worth.

There's always been something slightly uncool about handheld gaming. Try to imagine 50 Cent relaxing on his tour bus with a Gameboy SP. Doesn't quite work, does it? It'll work with a PSP.

On another note, here is my brain-bending item of the day.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

One Million Books

We went to Barnes & Noble tonight and got a couple of books for their One Million Books program. It felt really strange to check out, pay for some books, then leave with nothing. Good feeling though. Books and reading have always really important to Heather Marie and me, and we're glad to be able to share that with someone else.

It turned out to be harder than we expected to pick stuff out, though. Heather asked me what kinds of books I liked when I was a 10 year-old boy. I doubt my responses were typical, though: Tolkien, fantasy, sci-fi, and other adult fare. I remember that in 4th grade there was a group in my class (including Dan and me) that wound up using a 9th grade level reading book. I think they might have moved us higher still, but that was the highest level reading book available that had curriculum for it.

Heather Marie was in a similar fix when we were picking a book for a teenage girl, but hopefully we found good stuff for them.

Our friends Bill and David are coming into town tomorrow. We haven't seen them in a while, and they both have endearing qualities that make them fun to hang out with. ;-) Should be a good time.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Looking a lot like Christmas

We finally got all our Christmas decorations up this week, so it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. I don't have any pictures of the outside of the house yet, but here's a picture of how they looked last year, which is exactly the same.

Not sure yet what our holiday plans are going to be. Trying to plan around church Christmas Eve, work schedules, and family stuff is going to be kinda tough. We do know, though, that our friends Bill (currently in NY) and David (currently in Japan) are coming. That's always a blast.