Trick out your PSP

You know you need some accessories.

The vast capabilities of the Sony PlayStation Portable are realized not only with the latest games and movies, but with the targeted devices and software that pop in, snap on, and lord over the content and hardware. The following items are HT Gamer tested and approved.

Upbeat Audio

Now, my adoration of the PSP is a matter of public record; but, spend as much time with it as I hav,e and you start to notice some, how shall we say, limitations. While I was traveling cross-country recently, a supply of UMD movies at the ready, I noticed that even my noise-canceling headphones could not compete with the omnipresent whine of the jet engines, owing to the PSP's modest audio output. Months later, I would discover an appropriate solution: the tiny Boostaroo Revolution amplifier/splitter plugs.

Inserted in between your headphone and PSP (extra mini-cables are included in two lengths), it essentially quadruples the sound level without distortion, providing volume to spare in any situation. Proprietary processing also enhances clarity and fullness. It's not quite surround, but it's definitely enjoyable, although you will need step-up 32-ohm-rated-or-higher headphones to fully appreciate the difference. Running on a pair of miniscule AAAA batteries (also included, a blessing since I didn't know these needle-sized power cells existed), it also boosts the PSP's running time a tad between charges, as you can leave its audio output low, letting the Boostaroo Revolution do most of the work.



PSP games are off the hook, no question, but the multimedia applications are what really get me fired up each day, and, to take proper advantage, you need sufficient data storage.

The 32-megabyte Memory Stick Pro Duo card that comes with the PSP Value Pack is better than nothing, and it's practical for small game saves. If you want to cart around memory-hogging MPEG-4 video files, however, or almost an entire work week's worth of MP3s, we're talking about gigabytes, and the highest-capacity card I've seen is the SanDisk 2-GB Memory Stick Pro Duo. Tiny, solidly built, and the latest in a rainbow of snazzy lifestyle colors, this SanDisk giga-wafer is like a high-tech key that truly unlocks the PSP's multimedia potential.


Sony Media Software

Did somebody say "multimedia?" Sony Media Software's PSP Media Manager provides user-friendly file conversion/transfer tools with a simple interface. They play nice with BMP, JPEG, GIF, and TIF photos, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MOV, WMV, and 3GP video, plus MP3, M4A, WMA music formats and more, with Gracenote CD info lookup as well. Customizable bitrates even help manage remaining Memory Stick Duo space.

The downloadable software version costs $19.95, while the $29.95 boxed retail edition includes bonuses like a 6-foot USB 2.0 cable (a glaring omission from the original PSP Value Pack bundle), media samples, plus five free songs from the CONNECT online store. Thanks to this software, I am still discovering new and wonderful PSP tricks, like downloading podcasts, video blogs, and even PSP-formatted magazines. With the high-speed USB 2.0 connection, you can transfer multiple files at once, and you can safely and easily back up PSP content to a computer.



The Nyko Theater Experience is an incredible value, actually four accessories in one. It's a protective, extremely attractive brushed-aluminum case with a forgiving neoprene liner, a stable stand for hands-free desktop viewing, a pair of clean, punchy external speakers, plus a supplemental battery. The battery facilitates a remarkable seven hours of additional playtime, drawing upon its built-in lithium ion cell before it taps the PSP's power. Heck, the Theater Experience even acts as a headphone splitter, so two can listen at the same time.

This thoughtfully designed, well-built ber-case excels at all its tasks, with durability and elegance to spare. Mini-stereo and AC cabling (use with the PSP AC adapter) are included.


Digital Innovations

Digital Innovations has let loose a flurry of handy little doodads under the GameDR banner, including the Portalock anti-theft/anti-drop leashing system and the reflectivity/scratch/smudge-fighting Glare Shield.

They also offer two important maintenance products. The GameDR Optical Lens Cleaner for Sony PSP ($19.99) uses a vibrating brush to de-dustify the laser lens, crucial TLC for all such digital devices.

The compact, battery-operated GameDR Motorized UMD Cartridge Cleaner for PSP (also $19.99) tends to the overlooked Universal Media Discs themselves, whose necessary opening in the protective plastic shell admits all manner of contaminants. The cleaner spins the inner platter and uses microfiber to refresh the disc surface, for error-free gaming and movies.

Compact Power Systems

From the makers of those potentially lifesaving cell phone add-on batteries and similar jam-prolonging products for the Apple iPod comes the new Cellboost PSP1 "Anytime, Anywhere" disposable battery/charger.

This charger conveniently supplies another two hours of juice. I prefer to think of it as an entire additional UMD movie, although it will also keep you in the game long after the PSP's typical four hours of power expire.

The self-contained PSP1 pops inconspicuously onto the bottom of the PSP at the DC in port, with an on/off switch for further misering. Then you just throw it away and buy another for next time.