It was a bold move on Sony's part to attempt a spirited foray into the previously monopolized handheld gaming market - Nintendo has dominated the industry with its Gameboy range for years, and the name is instantly identified as THE pocket system. I applaud Sony for their effort, but rather than shipping a half-baked product to try and squeeze the leftover market share, the PSP is in my opinion superior to its now-rival DS in a number of ways.
The PSP is like the bigger, brawnier brother of the DS; it pitches itself as a powerhouse, the handheld for the serious gamer who doesn't want to compromise size for specs. The beefy CPU now is capable of up to 333 mhz of processing potency thanks to firmware updates, and the visual capability of the system is continually drawing closer and closer to PS2 quality - no easy feat for such a comparatively tiny gizmo. Notably impressive titles include Wipeout and Brave Story.
The PSP caters not only to gamers, but to AVphiles as well - thanks to the expandable memory (the bundled 32 mb is a piddly token effort useless for anything other than game saves), MP4 format video and MP3 format music tracks are playable. Thanks to the large, crisp display (however scratch and thumb-print prone it may be) watching movies is vastly enjoyable.
Other extra features include an almost fully-functional web browser that now supports flash, wireless multiplayer and gamesharing, remote play with PS3, and downloadable PS1 games among a hodgepodge of others.
The viability of this system as the right piece of kit to you depends on a number of factors, but most importantly are the games you want available. Luckily, the PSP library includes a solid and eclectic blend of RPG's, racers, shooters and assorted zany Japanese miscellany. While the DS may feature its cavalcade of mascots, the PSP's range is more diverse, mature if however derivative of its bigger cousin's many works.
The size of the system is quite large for a supposedly pocket-sized device - its thick, chunky and heavy, though with a little leveraging and coaxing it'll slide its way into most pouches, crevices and whatever other compartment you can devise.
Battery life is sufficient for extended play, though it will require a recharge daily if stressed with high brightness and volume settings. The in-built speakers are adequate at low settings, though if cranked up sound can get a little muffled and even at max the audio has issues competing with noise in open spaces. Thankfully, the PSP is compatible with your standard headphones.
In summation, the PSP is a powerful, almost pocket-sized alternative to the DS that offers serious gamers a true second option that surpasses the limitations that its 'portable' moniker implies.