PSP Connecting to the TV5 Apr, 2006 By: John Gaudiosi
Sony's PlayStation Portable, which has shipped 15 million units worldwide and sold 4 million hardware units stateside through March 1, is rapidly expanding its entertainment portfolio.
This month, two video game accessory companies are introducing peripherals that allow PSPs to connect directly to a TV. This opens the door for the game system's library of 444 movies and TV shows on UMD and 107 PSP games to be played on TVs with these add-ons.
The accessories, along with a price drop of PSP hardware to $200, could help a waning business. Hollywood studios have slowed down their support for the format for a variety of reasons, including slow sales. Still, Sony said PSP's North American hardware and software sales amounted to $1.6 billion in 2005.
Nyko Technology's Play on TV Adaptor ($80) and Digital Innovations' GameDR ScreenMax Video Transmission System ($70) are available now. Nyko's device features patented CCD sensor technology that connects the PSP to any TV or home theater system with the RCA cables that come with the device. Movies or games will play back on the TV in stereo, and can be connected straight to any surround sound system. Digital Innovation's device covers the PSP screen and sends a digitized picture to the TV.
Datel has introduced a 4GB hard drive for the PSP. The drive ($200) can store four feature films, 1,000 MP3s or thousands of digital pictures. A $250 package comes with a USB cable, which connects to the PSP for transferring digital content, and an X2 battery that has twice the strength of the standard PSP battery.
Griffin Technology, maker of iPod peripherals, also has created PSP accessories: iTrip ($50) allows gamers to send audio wirelessly to their home or car speakers; iFM ($50) turns the PSP into a radio, and the included remote control works for media playback as well as audio.
Sony is pushing PSP as a wireless entertainment device. PSP users already can access the Web via hot spots. Sony soon will launch a free firmware update that introduces Macromedia Flash Version 6 compatibility to the Web browser, opening up new gaming options. Datel has a $35 Wi-Fi Max device that plugs into any PC broadband connection, creating a hot spot for gamers to manage and download music, movies, games and pictures. This device supports up to five local PSP gamers at a time.
Digital distribution is a growing focus for Sony. PSP and PlayStation 3 are expected to play a part in Sony's PlayStation Network Platform, launching in November. Sony already supports music downloads for PSP through its Connect.com site, and Sony will offer PlayStation titles for PSP that can be downloaded to the Datel hard drive or to Memory Stick Duo cards from Sony or SanDisc.
In October, Sony will ship an EyeToy camera for PSP that will connect to PSP's USB port and introduce video chat and new gaming experiences. Sony also will launch free video and voice-over-IP services for PSP, turning the PSP into a free video-phone with any hot spot. At the same time, Sony will release a GPS peripheral, ushering in new games that take into account players' locations.