Gaming on the Go – The Nintendo DS Vs The Sony PSP

It is sleek, it is thin, and it took the US by storm in 2004. At issue, of course, is the dual screen, portable original style Nintendo DS. Followed in 2006 with the next generation of even thinner and sleeker looking technology, the Nintendo DS Lite, consumers eagerly gobbled up the lite version, but did not forsake the original one either.

In stark contrast to the Game Boy mimicry of the Nintendo DS stands Sony's PlayStation Portable, the PSP. It hit the American market in 2005, and even as the Nintendo DS had a head start and already established brand name recognition, PSP garnered a small market share. It failed to really take off until Sony releases the PSP Slim and Lite in 2007, which sent its sales through the roof worldwide – albeit for a limited period of time.

This of course begs the question any discerning consumer must ask: which system is better? Right on the heels of this line of questioning must be the inquiry over which system is most likely to be more appropriate for the 10 and under age group. After all, handheld gaming devices are now the after school activity of choice for youngsters facing lengthy commutes, or prolonged grocery shopping trips with mom.

Nintendo DS vs. Sony PSP: Just the Specs

Nintendo DS operates on a 67 MHz platform that accepts GBA cartridges and DS game cards. Game Boy owners rejoice! The system features four MB in storage and connects to Wi-Fi, and WLAN. The DS Lite is cosmetically enhanced and offers a few more bells and whistles, such as an extension of the battery life and a larger stylus, but the bottom line technology is pretty much the same.

The DS features two screens with a 256 x 192 pixel resolution, which is formidable for a handheld device. A rechargeable battery enables game play on the go, and fully charged batteries support about 10 hours of play, although this number is affected by the sound volume, the use of one or both screen, and even wireless activities.

Sony PSP operates on MIPS technology and plays Sony specific universal media discs, making this a premier mode of on the go entertainment system. Storage requires the use of memory sticks. Users may connect their PSP to Wi-Fi, USB, and also IrDA, which gave some false hopes as to the future of the gadget.

Somewhat of a dud when compared to the DS, the PSP Slim and Lite has added significant upgrades, namely a doubled internal memory, which makes it a real player in the handheld gaming market. On the other hand, the 480 x 272 pixel resolution is nothing to scoff at. The most commonly expressed complaint is the somewhat limited battery life that – fully charged – extends only to about five hours of game play or video replay, and about 10 hours of strictly audio replay.

Nintendo DS vs. Sony PSP: Game Libraries and Associated Options

DS offers the user choices. There is of course the ability to play DS and Game Boy Advance games; yet there is also the option to use PictoChat and even utilize DS Download Play.

Secondary functions of the DS are an alarm clock and an input mode that remembers some personal preferences with respect to choice and name.

PSP plays UMD discs and therefore doubles as a mini movie theater. In addition to playing games or watching movies, the user may choose to display a photo slide show, listen to music, and of course download upgrades. Initially the slow internal memory frustrated gamers who had to wait for games to load or for the system to switch between tasks, but since this has been corrected it is no longer a valid problem.

Games for the PSP are a mix of Sony's who's who, and a compilation of lesser known characters: there are "2 Xtreme," "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," "World Series Poker," "NHL," "NBA , "" FIFA, "" Crash Bandicoot, "and of course" Grand Theft Auto. "

DS offers backward compatibility with Game Boy Advance, thereby entering the market with a sizeable game library already intact. Currently boasting about 600 titles, gamers may find some similarities with PSP but also a lot of oldies but goodies. There are "FIFA," "Barnyard Blast," "Call of Duty," a soon to be released "Crash Bandicoot," and of course the ever popular "Mario."

Nintendo DS vs. Sony PSP: Consumer Appeal

Even as the demographics are not etched in stone, it is quite apparent that both handheld game consoles are targeting different audiences that overlap only slightly. In a step that has baffled industry insiders, the rumors surrounding the futures of both devices outline an embrace of the divide, rather than an attempt to bridge the gap and woo away members of the other demographic.

Starting out at $ 149.99 and later dropping to $ 129.99, the Nintendo DS is reasonably priced, and consumers who – worldwide – bought more than 80 million of these portable game consoles agreed. The vast numbers of games, the backward compatibility with Game Boy, and of course the availability of kiddie and teen favorites, such as "Mario" and "Crash Bandicoot," make this a favorite for parents.

This unit has a prolonged useful life in that it may grow with the interests of an elementary school kid and continue on being used when she is in her teens, or until the next unit model comes out. There are several games that are waiting for release, and the homebrew underground has gone wild in creating cards that allow for the playing of movies and other software.

The Sony PSP originally made a rather impressive splash but, once the novelty wore off, sales were sluggish when compared to the DS. Retailing at $ 169.99, it is pricier than the Nintendo system, and market watchers estimate that worldwide about 26 million units have been sold thus far. Sony is banking on promises that would add GPS capabilities to its units as upping the sales, but the critics are still unsure.

Since many of the PSP games are aimed at the teen and adult market, this is not the kind of gadget parents would buy for the younger set. In addition, the added online connectivity makes this the premier system for the independent young adult who is not under too much parental supervision.

Parents have come to see the DS as the next logical step of the Game Boy system, while teens are viewing the PSP as the natural extension of the PS3. This puts both systems before slightly different demographics, and it is apparent that for the parent driven market share, the DS is the system of choice, while the teen market is willing to do the extra chores and spend the birthday money to afford the PSP.

Nintendo DS vs. Sony PSP: What Does the Future Hold?

It is unlikely that the PSP is going to transcend its target audience and it is evident that Sony is not even trying to broaden the handheld console's appeal. Instead, it is seeking to cement consumer loyalty by introducing a PSP 3000, differentiated from the PSP and Portable Slim and Lite by the moniker PSP Brite.

Sony concentrated on the quality of its LCD screen and is timing the release of the PSP Brite to coincide with the pre holiday sales rush in October of 2008. The cost is $ 169.99 for the bare bones model, which will not be released until after the bundle version for $ 199.99 makes its debut.

True to form, the bundle is paired with the movie "National Treasure 2," platform game "Ratchet & Clank," which earned a debatable ESRB E10 + rating, a single player puzzle game download coupon, and a memory stick. The alternate bundle substitutes the "Everyday Shooter" game which is considered a somewhat more difficult shoot 'em up game.

Nintendo is unlikely to improve upon its DS Lite in the very near future, and accordingly original style DS owners breathe a sigh of relief that there is no immediate upgrade to the console in sight. In its place there is a good chance that yet another special version will be released. Consumers may remember that the latest such release took place in June of 2008 when the "Guitar Hero: On Tour" special edition DS hit store shelves at a cost of $ 179.99.

Although there is no immediately verifiable buzz on the gaming forums, there are some rumors that another special edition may coincide with the planned PSP Brite release, but thus far the rumors are unsubstantiated.