Gadget speak

E&T test-drives the new Sony PSP Go and compares it to the gaming qualities of the iPod Touch and iPhone from Apple.

Separated at birth

Sony PSP vs iPod Touch / iPhone

The latest iteration of Sony's PlayStation Portable, the PSP Go, has taken a step closer to becoming a true competitor to Apple's iPod and iPhone range by making the move from UMD format to digital.

Shrunk to a size and shape similar to the iPhone and iPod Touch and with a sliding screen, it's much lighter, and feels much more comfortable than its predecessors.

Although the focus still remains on gaming, its features make it more of a media hub, with Bluetooth functionality, the ability to surf the Web, listen to music and watch movies, as well as make calls via Skype.

For the regular rather than casual gamer, the PSP clearly outperforms Apple's offerings. Although much more compact than its predecessors, its screen, at 3.8in, is only slightly larger than the iPod's 3.5in. However, Apple users are constricted by the ability to only play games that involve using the touch screen or the accelerometer to detect movement. The Go comes with both a directional pad and an analogue stick, which feels more secure as it is now lowered within a small well. Throw in the established action and shoulder buttons, and you're given full gaming capabilities.

Using its Wi-Fi functionality, you download games using the PlayStation Store and connect to the PlayStation Network, giving access to a huge range of genres and a much wider breadth of 'real' rather than casual, although highly addictive, titles that Apple's Apps Store provides. However, it's yet to be seen if the process of choosing and downloading games is as user-friendly as the App Store.

Playing first-person shooters might be less comfortable than on a home console, but other genres such as platformers and racing games excel on the machine. Essentially a handheld console with a variety of media extras, it's the better option for those who game for fun rather than to pass the time on the journey to work.

With regards to other features, the choice becomes cloudy. Video playback looks just as good as any Apple machine, but it can be finicky about what formats it will display. Additionally, with music, you're more likely to lean towards your iPod, simply because it's an established music player. However, the Go's music playback is fine and, if anything, better than older PSPs, with a clearer and louder sound. Essentially, it comes down to user preference.

Apple, however, wins hands-down when it comes to surfing the Web on the move. The PSP Go's Web browser is hugely unfriendly and only the most patient are likely to persevere.

Without a keyboard or touch screen you're resigned to using the controls to type in text, a cumbersome move that will put the majority of users off. Those willing to continue will find poor navigation and pages that are displayed badly, leaving you to continuously scroll up, down and sideways to view them in their entirety. Today's consumer is likely to expect better.

Apple is also well placed to offer more variety to consumers with the number of apps continuously growing. The only other ability the PSP Go currently offers is Skype, which is no bad thing, but it can't compare to the 75,000+ apps already available.

Finally two big issues - memory and money. The PSP Go offers double the basic iPod Touch memory, with 16GB internal and the ability to raise that via external M2 memory sticks. But retailing at £225, the PSP Go works out much more expensive than the lower 8GB Touch, although you can pay up to £229 for the largest, which gives you an impressive 64GB for your buck.

It's tough to weigh up, but in the end its comes down to this - the PSP Go is still the best option for regular gamers, but for more casual media fans Apple continues to win out.

Trade secrets

This week

How to be a pro at social networking

It first started with MySpace a few years back. Now you have a dozen social media profiles, many with unanswered messages comingled with spam because you have a life to lead and, unless you learn to do everyday tasks with your feet, you won't have time to tap away on your smartphone to update your various profiles.

Ensuring your personal brand is fresh and up-to-date is vital to good business and personal relationships. With these steps, you will be able to manage your profiles far more easily.

Where are you on the Web?

Make a list of all the social media sites you have signed up to and their corresponding user names and security details. Audit them to make sure that they are still actively being viewed and are up-to-date. Nothing can be more off-putting than a social networking profile that clearly hasn't been updated in years.

Tidy up unused accounts

Make sure you have signed up to the most popular social media, whether you are currently using them or not, because you may decide to activate them at some point in the future - not possible if someone's got there first. If you're not currently using your MySpace page, for example, direct visitors to the social media platforms that you are most active on. Signing up for a dot tel domain through one of the telnic resellers will allow you to post an up-to-date Yellow Pages type entry on the Web. All the information is stored in the Web's metadata so it will render on virtually every browser.

Automate and combine profiles

Group similar tasks together - such as sending a status update that you have updated your blog. Rather than update each one individually, use a service such as Ping.fm or Twitterfeed to update multiple sites at once. With these services, you could also filter updates using tags so that personal stuff only gets updated on your Facebook profile and work related stuff only gets updated on your Linked In status page.

Enjoy your digital life

Once you have kept to this regimen, spend just a few minutes each week to make sure that everything is up-to-date. Like everything in life, don't fall behind and let it get on top of you. Otherwise, updating them all may seem insurmountable. After all, you set up these profiles to control your social networks and not for them to control you.

Technology clinic

Bits and bytes

I was reading E&T Vol 4 #15 and saw Peter Vince's letter about ethernet speeds. I'm not too happy with this explanation. Surely this is a confusion over bits and bytes? Ethernet is a communications medium and so is quoted in bits (100mb/s) but windows reports it in bytes (10MB/s) as this is easier for users to understand and any timing using files sizes would also be affected by this. I think an average 11mB/s out of ethernet 100 is pretty normal and even the cheapest hub would be able to get full speed with no other devices running on the network.

Ed Waugh MIET

In the Vol 4 #15 issue of E&T Peter Vince asked why 100Mb ethernet only transfers data at 11Mbps. Your answer did not seem very pertinent to the question, if I may say so! Surely the answer is a simple confusion between bits and bytes? 100Mb ethernet has a raw transfer rate of 100 million bits per second which is 12-and-a-half million bytes per second. So allowing for a modest overhead 11 million bytes per second is pretty good.

Strictly, the rate of the Ethernet should be stated as 100Mb/s while the file transfer rate should be 11MB/s. Disk capacities and disk-to-disk transfer rates are usually measured in bytes.

John Hind, London

 

Waterlogged keyboard

I spilt water on my laptop two years ago - it still works, however it does not boot up unless you tap the enter key lots of times. What would be the reason for this and how would one fix it?

Sophia Smith, Surrey

Obviously, when you spill water on an electrical item it can cause some oxidisation on any electronic components. Therefore, it is essential to clean the item, even if it is just plain water.

However, your situation is not that simple because your laptop eventually does boot-up without any recurrence once loaded. Therefore, I recommend you backup your data and then take the following steps:

First, once the laptop is loaded, connect an external USB keyboard and make sure it works.

Through the control panel, disable the driver for the internal keyboard.

If the problem does not persist when you restart, you know that there is an issue with the internal keyboard.

You could then try to prise up the keys with a large flat head screwdriver and clean the surface gently and then attach the keys back.

If this doesn't solve the problem, it may be an issue involving the motherboard and I would not advise trying to repair this.

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