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June 11th 2011 12:34 pm

Why did everyone give Sony so much crap about using the UMD?

Nintendo have their own proprietary (the cartridge) but no one ever seemed to cared, but when Sony announced the PSP and that they're going to use the UMD as the format for their games and videos everyone I know criticized Sony. So why did everyone hate on the UMD while people cared little for the cartridge that Nintendo used for the Game Boy and Nintendo DS line.

Also, don't forget that Nintendo did create videos for Game Boy Advance stored in cartridges. Remember all those Nickelodeon videos on the GBA?
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timchoi89's pick

There were a few reasons people were frustrated by UMD. Rewind way back to the PSP's introduction, and Sony made a lot of promises that the UMD (which stands for Universal Media Disc) would live up to its name: UMD media would be a format you could expect to find in computers, home theater devices, all kinds of places.

Sony moved early on to release movies and other content for the PSP on UMD, but never made good on its promise to open the format up to other products, which meant consumers that bought into the UMD vision wound up getting burned pretty badly. It sent a very clear message to early adopters that the UMD was destined to yet another proprietary Sony format, which by then the company was notorious for repeatedly introducing and abandoning after itself getting burned by Toshiba on the DVD. (I wrote a piece on this a while back:­/2005­/09­/19­/blu­-ray­-vs­-hd­-dvd­-stat... )

Pile onto that the fact that the UMD being a portable optical disc drive (not unlike Sony's failed MiniDisc format) meant the PSP had a ton more bulk and moving parts (making it more prone to failure than a solid state cartridge system) and consumed significantly more power (spinning the disc, moving the lens, etc.) than other portable consoles.

When all's said and done, I can see why Sony wanted to make the PSP a media-centric device that did more than just play games. I think that was smart, even a little ahead of its time. But Sony failed in its execution, and their approach with UMD really rubbed people the wrong way. By the time they understood how the whole thing came off it was already too late to save the format from implosion.
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timchoi89's pick

To add to what Ryan said, I think that if Sony had simply referred to UMD as the format for games and movies on the PSP and left it at that, there would have been no uproar. It was their desire to push the format to other platforms as a "Universal" format that made everyone stop and criticize. It smacked too much of the ATRAC debacle, but on a wider scale.

I am glad Sony's dream never came true. Just when we were happy to watch VCRs go the way of the dinosaur, people would have been right back to having a UMD player sitting on top of their Blu Ray / DVD player.
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timchoi89's pick

Like the Minidisc, it was destined for failure. However, when a big company says other people will be using this in computers, some people tend to believe them. I am definitely happy that the SD card and not the UMD became the standard for portable media.

Flash storage is just superior in so many ways. Sony even built in a Flash storage area in the PSP for their proprietary Memory pro duo and even continued their proprietary ways with a slightly different micro SD card in the PSP-Go. Talk about mistakes on mistakes! Part of the reason none of this caught on was the high prices Sony continues to sell these parts at, even though only their products take these cards.

Talk about poor PR and horrible mistakes!

PS Nintendo sucks. They don't make a quarter of the products Sony makes so they get a pass, likely too often because everyone's favorite nephew loves his DS, plays it all the time and they created Mario. Mario still rocks in a lot of people's eyes.
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timchoi89's pick

I was fine with UMD, the movie idea was kind of stupid, but every systems discs / cartridges were proprietary. I never understood what the big deal was.

You know what happens when you put a PS3 disc in and Xbox? Nothing.
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I didn't have an issue with the UMDs, but I liked how the DS cartridges were more durable and smaller. There was a small area of the UMD that exposed the disc that could be prone to scratches. So I was able to throw around my DS games, I wouldn't be able to do the same with the UMDs.
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I think the big deal is that cartridges really weren't supposed to play movies, GBA could, but not much, UMD was said it would play movies and so you buy all your movies again. Kinda sucks, sounds like GBA movies were fun extras.
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UMDs scratched easily but the point is truly moot since the PS Vita and the PS GO dont use UMDs at all and Sony has moved to a ALL download format for games on the PSP GO and PS Vita
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for a portable gaming system I need it to be sturdy and UMD has to many moving parts.
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I only bought an PSP when I realized it was easy-peasy to run pirated copies of the games I own stored on the flash memory - alas, using an adapter to a Micro SD card, to avoid another proprietary format. Or you could have a PSP and download all the games via PlayStation Store (a limited selection, I know) and never even see a UMD disk.

Anyway, I think that people give Sony much crap because of the irony in it's name, "Universal" Media Disk.
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