Back in 2005, in the midst of a stormy Thanksgiving break, I came to a decision. For weeks I’d seriously contemplated the purchase of a PSP, weighing the appurtenant merits and demerits of such a (for me) hefty expenditure, and in the end I came down on the side of indulgence; practicality and common sense, far less gratifying, were peremptorily shown the door.
For, the handheld’s immediate appeal lay less in its then-meager library than in that same, nigh on irresistible charm to which so many new gadgets lay claim: it was just so damned neat. I had precious little genuine need for a portable gaming platform, and its lineup back then hadn’t even begun to show the promise that it’s fulfilled in the years since – it was simply that the thing was too cool not to buy.
But for all the patent frivolity of my investment, before long I found myself reaping benefits wholly unanticipated, and the PSP deftly filling a niche theretofore dark to me.
Easily the most important function discharged by my little ‘PS 1.9′ has been that of a general purpose media player. Though more than a year would elapse before I acquired a more versatile 2GB memory stick, the 512MB model with which I made do was more than large enough to accommodate an album or two, and almost overnight my PSP had been pressed into service as something of a poor man’s (so to speak) iPod.
I personally spend a goodly amount of time in either libraries or coffee shops, and I like to read or study to the accompaniment of a soundtrack of my own choosing, rather than play Russian roulette with whatever (if anything at all) my chosen locale might have on offer. But, as fond as I am of my trusty laptop, generally speaking I’d rather not have to lug the old girl all the way across town just for a single application, and the PSP, happily, supplies the perfect alternative (since I never hopped on the iPod bandwagon) – I can even take a break and, say, fly a few quick sorties in Ace Combat X or Warhawk if the mood so strikes me (as it has on several occasions).
Running a close second, the organic Wi-Fi has proven its worth and then some more times than I can count. By way of example, one morning a few weeks ago I was out and about running some errands, the last of which was to hit the post office and mail off a package. But as I was on my way out of the library – where I’d stopped to run off a copy of something or other – I realized that I’d completely forgotten the address that I needed, and hadn’t thought to write it down anywhere. Luckily, though, I happened to have my PSP on me – rather than drive all the way back to my apartment, then, I just whipped the handheld out, keyed its somewhat balky browser to life, and took down the address like I should have in the first place. Problem solved.
Of course, such is more exception than rule – I’m usually not that forgetful – but it did save me a trip, and vindicate yet again the purchase that I made three-and-a-half years ago. More than that, though, I love the ready access that my PSP provides to Wikipedia or other reference sources, of which I’ve made not infrequent use over the years. Every now and again in the course of my reading I’ve happened across a term, event, or person that, although tantalizingly familiar, I couldn’t quite place, which deficiency a handful of minutes spent in consultation with the appropriate site – facilitated by the aforementioned internet connection – has usually been sufficient to rectify.
But by far the most esoteric task to which I’ve set the PSP is, without question, the storage of a book in electronic format. Some time back, in the course of a search for an old volume that had been out of print for decades, I had learned that a university library had been kind enough to provide high-quality digital scans – freely available to all – of the same. While it took a fair bit of work to first convert the images to a format that the system could read, and then work around the decidedly backwards organizational schema that it uses, at the end of my labors I had a wonderfully functional copy of a text that I could take with me anywhere I pleased (and that, I’m quite sure, would never see the light of day on a Kindle); that very book, not one month later, saw me through the interminable hours of a somewhat grueling flight across the Atlantic.
All in all, I’ve been absolutely delighted by the manifold capabilities of Sony’s first handheld, and at this point would be hard put to imagine getting by without one. (For any who may have been wondering, I do also get in the odd game from time to time.) Compact, versatile, and at times indispensable, my PSP remains, in all its utility, one of the best accidental discoveries that I’ve ever made.