Sony recently released a firmware update for the PSP that adds Skype functionality - as long as your PSP is the newer, slimmer kind. We've spent the morning calling people from weird places - here's the lowdown.
To get started with Skype, you'll first need to update your PSP Slim to the latest 3.90 firmware by selecting Network Update from the Settings tab, or the old fashioned way - using your PC and a memory stick. You'll need a fully charged battery to start the firmware update process, so if you're running low on juice, plug in to the mains now and start charging while you wait for the download.
You'll also need a microphone that is compatible with the PSP. We used a microphone that came bundled with TalkMan, Sony's speech translation software for the PSP, however there are more appropriate Sony headsets available for the task for under US$20 - and of course the handy ones could get a little DIY.
It's a shame there's no option to remember a username without the password - entering a long username and password using Sony's SMS-style text input fields becomes an incredibly tedious process.
Those who aren't concerned with Skype automatically logging them on will fare much better - once automatic login was enabled, the entire process of launching Skype, grabbing an IP from the router and logging in to my Skype account took just 15 seconds - not bad considering that's how long it took my Macbook Pro to do the same thing.
Regardless of text input woes, once you're in, it's smooth sailing - your SkypeOut credits are ready for use, you can quickly navigate your contacts list, and the people you talk to won't have a clue you're not at your computer unless you usually send a video feed - there's no noticeable processing lag, and no audible loss of sound quality.
It's an impressive, usable implementation, and a welcome addition to the repertoire of the Swiss Army Knife of portable gaming systems.
Sony seems dedicated to increasing the value of their gaming consoles throughout the course of their lifespan, with functionality being added to the PSP (and PlayStation 3) on a regular basis.
Other things in store for the PSP this year are the GPS add-on with Go!Explore software, and Blu-ray movies that include a PSP-optimised version of the movie ready to copy onto your PSP.
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