UMD video looks amazing on the PSP screen—bright, colorful, and crisp as fresh lettuce. But with a suggested retail price only about $5 cheaper than most DVDs, it remains to be seen just how popular the format will be with the Hollywood studios and the public at large. (We can only hope UMDs become available for rent, especially at airports). Unless Sony drops the price or starts including UMD drives in more home devices, the format could very well go the way of the laser disc.
But there is another way to watch video on your PSP: directly off the Memory Stick. The MPEG-4 video format the system is compatible with can’t compete with UMD movies in terms of quality, but it doesn’t look bad by any means and goes much easier on your battery life (about six hours versus two and a half). You can fit over three hours of MPEG-4 video on a 1 gig stick as well, compared to two hours on a single UMD disc.
Currently, running video from a Memory Stick isn’t as easy as playing music, but there is an excellent free program called 3GP that will get just about anything working on your PSP. Head to Web tech magazine engadget.com and search for “Sony PSP” for a full how-to.
The first batch of UMD movies (not including Spider-Man 2, which comes with the first 1 million PSPs) hits on April 19. Here they are with suggested retail prices (you should be able to find them about $5 cheaper) and rotten-tomatoes.com freshness ratings (the percentage of critics who liked the movie):
RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE
21% — rotten
87% — fresh
ONCE UPON A
TIME IN MEXICO
69% — fresh
78% — fresh
45% — rotten
Free with first
1 million PSPs
Copyright © 2005 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Electronic Gaming Monthly.