It's All About the Entertainment Quality!
Input controls are nice, but in the broad scheme of things it is all about looks, or more specifically, the graphics and audio capability. In this area, the PSP excels. You will be hard pressed to find a screen of the same size (480 x 272 pixels) and color depth (24-bit). With a 4:3 ratio, you get full 16:9 display capability that is standard for most movies. What does all this really mean? Well, simply put, it is a very nice display for a handheld, and I don't think you will find an equal for this size or price.
It is hard to capture the quality of the screen in real life (i.e. without Photoshop editing), but for what it is worth, I took a shot of Need For Speed Underground Rivals splash page (figure 2) and a shot of Spiderman 2 (figure 3) on my PSP. Crisp, clean, detailed, well lit, and fast refresh rates help this display burn its images into your head.
Figure 2: Need for Speed Screen Shot
Figure 3: Spider-man 2 Screen Shot
The audio on the PSP is excellent as well. MP3s sound sharp and clear using the headphones. The internal speakers are fine for basic audio needs, but with such a small frame, the sound comes out tinny. One nice audio perk is the predefined equalized (Tone) settings that provide subtle, but balanced sound for various types of audio output. With the push of the little music note button you can change the sound from Heavy, to Pop, Jazz, Unique, or just default. This is a nice feature; one I hope will someday be customizable via a software equalizer (hint-hint).
The PSP does include one sound feature that strikes my curiosity. Included in the Video Settings you can adjust the output of the UMD video volume (Normal, +1, +2). This feature basically acts like a sound booster for UMD videos that have low audio output. I personally never understood devices that include dual sound controls, but it is important to note that this option is available in case you need that extra volume.