Thursday, February 4, 2010

FEATURE - the many trials of going PSP.

This is, as one fine fellow puts it, an Epic Tale. Should you like this massive post boiled down to its lean essentials, click here.

* * *

If you're a regular reader of this humble blog, you may have tuned in today and wondered why there wasn't a new post up. Had I gone back to my old ways of saying "it's okay to miss one day's blog post, but never two in a row?" No. There was a post.

For the first time in the history of my bloggery, I deleted it. I was so pissed off. Misinformation! Misled! I was more than anything ashamed of my own lack of knowledge that was on display. Were I more level-headed earlier today, I would have simply put an update note on the post and laughed at my own idiocy - but I was so pissed off I deleted the whole thing and decided to rewrite it.

This post is that post, reborn.

* * *

On Tuesday night, I began browsing prices for PSPs.

The price is pretty standard across the board - unless I wanted to buy a used one from GameStop (or my local pawn joint), which I didn't.

No matter how you slice it, they ain't cheap. After a reasonable degree of research, I decided on the 3000. You can replace the battery when it runs down instead of having to seek out an electrical outlet, it has 8GBs of onboard memory, the screen is (half an inch) larger (diagonally) than the Go, and if worse comes to worst I'd have that old-timey UMD drive to fall back on.

My intention was to download all my games off the PSN - no need to haul a bunch of "mini" discs around with me, right?

In my quest for the best price, I discovered Best Buy was having a sale - $230 for the Go and $150 even for the 3000. Decision made.

On the way down there, I stopped in at the Sony store to get a second opinion from their PSP Specialist, and to see if they would beat the price.

The guys at the Sony store must work commission, 'cause he was really pushing a $200 PSP-3000 bundle on me. Trying to sell me on how it has a memory card and a game. I reckoned I didn't need a memory card for a system with 8GB already in it, and I didn't want any of the games he was pushing, so I thanked him for his time and went on my way.

He seemed like a nice enough guy, though. Then, I hit up Best Buy.

There's a younger dude with shoulder-length hair and the easygoing charm of a surfer who's often working the games area of my local Best Buy. On Wednesday he had a swollen lip - perhaps he was less-than-easygoing with someone in his off hours, or perhaps it was just a really bad cold sore. Either way, we get down to discussion.

I tell him precisely what I want the 3000 for - I will only be downloading games with it, but instead of the Go I prefer the 3000 for its switchable battery. He tells me the 3000 is perfectly good enough for my needs, and sees me over to the checkout as we talk about the merits of Samurai Champloo.

The guy working the checkout, he tells me, is the one who turned him on to the series. When we put the PSP in front of him, the fellow on the till asks me under his breath if I intend to hack it.

"No, I've got a lot of PSN purchases, and I want to make sure Sony never, ever fucks with my account," I tell him. Just to be safe, I confirm that the 3000 has 8GB of memory. He assures me it does - and the surfer-dude echoes the fact again.

At that moment, I became a PSP owner.


I head on back to the Sony store, because I didn't like the earbuds they had at Best Buy - $30? That's a stupid price! Perhaps the store where the nice guy was desperately working commission would have something more reasonable.

Nope. I pick up a $50 PSN card so I can get God of War and Patapon, and head on my way.

Before I get fifty feet, I turn around, head back to the store and ask the guy - "the 3000 has 8GB of memory, right?"

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this, but let's just follow the narrative as it turns to suffering of the deepest, spiny blue.

* * *

After banging my head against a wall for several hours trying to get the PSP to connect to a nearby wi-fi source so I could activate the goddamned system, I discover I could not yet access the PSN - first, I needed to update to the 6.30 firmware.

For which, the system informed me, I would need a memory card with at least 28MB of free space.

I didn't believe the three separate gentlemen had misled me, yet. Perhaps the PSP required all data to be stored on a card separate from the system before it would check it out, say "this isn't a virus or something naughty" and accept it onto its 8GB of storage space.

But I had no time. I had to get to work - so I slapped myself together a sandwich and implored a few family members to seek out a memory card on my behalf while I toiled the night away.

There were no takers.

* * *

This morning, I rolled out of bed, dashed down to a nearby mall and went into the HMV. I found a little Sony 4GB "Pro Duo Mark 2" that was, apparently, compatible with the 3000.

Obscenely expensive.

This little fucker cost me forty bucks!

I rush home, fire in the memory stick and pray to God the PSP will allow me the internet access required to update the firmware.

It does!

I begin the 28MB download and walk away.

A few minutes later I return, and discover the progress bar: 0%

Fucking wi-fi!

I call the Sony support number and navigate menus for twenty minutes until I finally get a real, live foreign fellow on the phone, who patiently listens to my bitching and walks me through the process of updating the firmware via my PC.

Then I try to go online with the PSP again so I can activate my user account, and play all my delish PS1 games on the PSP. No wi-fi. No dice.

I call Sony support and a nice grandmotherly-sounding lady walks me through the process of doing it via PC.

This was way more work than it oughta' be.

Finally, I hook it up to my PS3 and begin the transfer of Final Fantasy VII. Which takes a while.

When it is done, I go into the PSP and attempt to transfer the game from the 4GB memory stick onto the 8GB of internal memory. I call Sony support again. Get transferred once, and I swear I talk to that same nice grandmotherly lady again. Finally, she informs me that the PSP-3000 has zero internal memory.

And this is how it felt:

It was at this point that I deleted yesterday's blog post (which was about why I went for the 3000 over the Go). I just felt like such an idiot. It was wrong of me - and if I could un-delete it and re-post it to better display my raw stupidity to all the world, I would. It would be right. But anyway...

All that work, and what I really needed was a PSP Go.

If I wanted to keep the 3000 for the added battery convenience and slightly larger screen, the cost would be paying - essentially - double for every game I wanted to play on the damned thing, if indeed I wanted to utilize memory cards.

Now, suddenly, the PSP Go with its hundred and sixty dollars worth of internal memory for ninety bucks more than the 3000 seems like a brilliant fucking idea.

I no longer needed the memory card (it's not compatible with the Go) - but nobody takes returns on memory cards if the package has been opened.

But I'm convincing for a living (don't ask), so I call up HMV and try to explain the situation to the young lady who answers the phone. I can hear her trying to speak by proxy to her manager, but there's some mis-communication so I ask to talk to him directly.

I explain again. I was misinformed, and sold a device I did not want - and so I do not need the memory card. Would he take it back? Turns out what I really need is a PSP Go.

"A Go?" he says. "I've got some of those. If you get the return at Best Buy and come in here, I'll do an exchange on the memory card."

...which would shave $40 off the price of the Go, bringing it down to $210.

"Deal," I tell him, and head off to

where I meet Jasmine, who was working the customer service counter. She has sparkly blue color contacts, a fake tan, and is obviously very new at her job. Every question or decision to be made was double-checked with someone nearby.

I explained the situation - when she asks me which employee misled me about the capabilities of the 3000, I don't hesitate to finger surfer dude. "I think as far as he knew, he was telling me the truth," I add (which I do believe). "It's just that he was wrong."

I then explain that I want the return because I intend to go to HMV, where - once having returned the memory card - I will get a Go for $210.

"Now, if you want to match that price and knock off 10%, I'll buy it here. But that's a PSP Go for a hundred and ninety bucks, and that's not going to happen," I shrug.

It takes about a half hour. Maybe forty-five minutes.

Or maybe it just felt that long.

But it did happen - because Jasmine made it so.

With the knowledge procured from my earlier harassment of Sony tech support, I got the little bugger up and running pretty quick.

While it was charging, I realized I had forgotten to disassociate the 3000 I brought home from my account - it was eating up one of my five. So I called Best Buy and got ahold of Jasmine again.

She put me on hold for twenty minutes or so before returning and assuring me she had located the 3000 and it was all taken care of. I believe her - though whoever assured her they would do it, I cannot vouch for.

I then explained I had been in a terrible rush to get to work earlier that day, and I wasn't sure I had thanked her properly at the time. She really went above and beyond, and did right by me - and I really appreciated it.

* * *

And that is the long and meandering story of how I came to possess a PSP Go.

Also, a 4GB memory card that, I guess, will take up permanent residence in my PS3.


  1. Damn, I feel for you. But at least you got an epic tale out of it.

  2. I can't believe you read the whole thing! And I was just about to post a TL:DR option.

    In fact, I think I will. (And thanks, man.)