reviews\ Jan 12, 2006 at 7:00 pm

PSP ON TV - PSP - Review

A great concept limited by limited technology.

Toward the end of the 16-bit gaming era, Nintendo released a peripheral that has continually, though marginally, influenced handheld gaming: the Super Game Boy. It was the first of its kind – an SNES cartridge for Game Boy cartridges. Pop a game into the Super Game Boy, pop that into your SNES and within seconds Pokemon and Super Mario Land are playable on a 27-inch TV. Too good to be true? Consequently you had to deal with a lame, colored boarder to keep the original screen ratio. But it worked well and made the games look so much brighter than they did on the original GB's color-less screen. The Game Boy Advance adaptor released for GameCube worked even better.

Today we're at the PSP/Nintendo DS era. Nintendo DS games can't be projected on a TV screen for obvious reasons: (1) it'd need two TV screens and (2) one of them would need to be a touch screen. The PSP, however, is a powerful system with a lot of pixel-pushing power. You can't look at a game like Burnout Legends or Wipeout Pure without being amazed at the technology employed, both by the game developers and hardware designers. Watching UMD movies on the PSP is akin to what it'd be like to watch DVD movies on a portable high-def television; unrivaled clarity, unprecedented picture quality.

Nothing beats having all this in the palm of your hands. There are, however, many games that are exclusive to PSP. If I buy a UMD version of a movie, I'm less likely to buy it on DVD as well. Cramming five heads together to watch the Spider-Man 2 UMD is not a pretty picture. It'd be great to be able to take these movies and exclusive games and play them on a big screen TV.

PSPonTV is the first non-invasive device hoping to make that dream come true. No surgery is required to get this thing to blast a PSP's image on your oversized Panasonic. Just plug and play.

I Got The Hookup

PSPonTV is a megaphone-shaped device that clamps onto the front of the PSP. It does not hurt or even touch the screen in any way, so you don't have to worry about damaging its beautiful display, a major plus. I'm very paranoid about scratches and wouldn't have been willing to try this product if there were a risk for them.

Once the device is secured, you insert the headphone and power plugs into the proper openings on the PSP. The headphone plug is necessary to pump music through your TV speakers; the power plug is needed to power the PSPonTV device. It cannot run solely on the power of the PSP's battery and as a result must be plugged in at all times. Keeping it plugged in not only powers the PSPonTV device but also sends juice to your PSP, charging its battery while you play.

Thirdly, plug the A/V cables into the slot on the back of the device and insert the red, white and yellow plugs into your TV. Turn the power on and... Look at that, my PSP is on TV!

How It Works

Without hours of re-engineering, and absolutely no requirement to open the PSP and play with its guts, PSPonTV cannot do what the Super Game Boy could. It does not project the PSP games or UMD movies onto your TV in the same way that it projects them onto the PSP's screen. Instead, PSPonTV grabs these images – almost like a Web cam from what I can tell – and blasts that image onto the screen.

How It Looks

In the days before DVD and high-speed Internet connections, people would pirate movies by filming them in the theater with a handheld 8mm or Mini DV camcorder. The image was usually somewhat blurry. Text was hard to read, and the colors were bland at best.

Since the PSPonTV is essentially doing the same thing to the PSP's screen that a Mini DV camera does in a movie theater, the picture quality is very similar. Text is hard to read, the colors are very bland, etc. Watching Spider-Man 2 was painful at first. I had the PSP's screen brightness on high, which made the whites so bright I needed sunglasses. Switching to the lowest setting made a difference. I no longer needed sunglasses to look at the screen. I did, however, feel like I needed to use Photoshop's sharpening tool, play with the coloring, and try to bring the background into focus. Details that were once present on the PSP's screen are lost when viewed using the PSPonTV.

Playing Games

It isn't too difficult to play games with this device attached, but you will notice its presence whenever you press the square button. The device covers more than half of the PSP's face and comes a little too close to the face buttons. It also adds a little bit of weight to the system, making it more like a hefty game controller than a pocket-sized handheld (think back to the golden days of the first Xbox controller. Now that was heavy!).

On the down side, with text being hard (and in some cases impossible) to read, RPGs are out of the question. Games with written objectives are also not recommended. Games with word puzzles or puzzles that involve any kind of text description or explanation are also not recommended. This doesn't narrow down the list of games too much. It's not like you need to read much in a racing game, one of the genres PSP has excelled at.

But you will get tired of looking at a washed out picture that's hard to look at for long periods of time. Some doctors recommend that you take 15-minute breaks for every hour in front of a PC or game console. You and I both know that none of us listen to that recommendation. However, when my eyes are irritated I do not push it. I get away from the screen, if only for a few minutes. Straining your eyes is one of the worst things you could do. I won't risk that. And after playing games for a while with PSPonTV, and after watching Spider-Man 2, my eyes became irritated. It was time to quit.

Review Scoring Details for PSP ON TV


  • Easy to hook up 

  • Doesn't harm the PSP internally or externally


  • Poor picture quality 

  • Clear backgrounds are blurry; blurry backgrounds are indecipherable 

  • With blurry text, reading is difficult and in some cases impossible

Verdict: 6.0
A great concept limited by limited technology. We are not yet at the point where an image from one screen can be perfectly copied and projected onto another screen. I appreciate that they were trying to get around the warranty-voiding task of opening your PSP and messing with its complex technology, something I don't recommend anyone but the most skilled engineers attempt.

As image and secondary image technology improves, resilient developers will get closer to creating a PSPonTV that works. Until then, stick with what you've got and keep your fingers crossed that a better plug-and-play technology is around the corner.

Above Average

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