RealView's V-Screen for PSP review

The PSP may be a lot of things to a lot of people, but it's not capable of pumping out images in 3D -- cross your eyes all you want but nothing's going to leap off of that LCD. We'll have to wait for at least another iteration of portables before we can start expecting any miracles in that department, but until then there's the V-Screen! It's a big, silly-looking attachment that pledges to add depth to your PSP games despite the system's distinctly two-dimensional screen. Is it magic? Is it sorcery? Is it complete bull? You might be surprised.

Back in the '80s there were plenty of attachments like this for the OG Game Boy and its ilk, most of which simply turned those green and black pixelated graphics into slightly bigger, slightly blurrier pixels. An improvement they were not, and so I hope you'll forgive us for having distinctly lowered expectations when we heard about the V-Screen from RealView. First impressions taking it out of the box didn't do anything to dispel those fears. Its bulk is considerable, easily dwarfing the original PSP-1000 we used for testing the thing -- you remember, the "before" model ahead of the PSP-2000's impressive weight loss.

It flips open to reveal a cavity into any of the pre-Go models can be slotted. Yes, this system is incompatible with Sony's latest sales phenomenon, but at this point we wouldn't exactly consider that a negative. Anyone who bought a Go is interested in slim design above all else, so those buyers will surely find the V-Screen's bulk especially distasteful. It more than doubled the dimensions of the chubby PSP-1000 and, since it has no room for storing games or anything else, it all seems a bit wasteful. And, with a design that's no sexier than one of those free velvet-lined reading glasses cases, it's not going to win anyone over for looks.

But does it work? Surprisingly, it's not as bad as we'd expected. No, it doesn't provide the "fully 3 dimensional experience" that the company originally promised, but even they've ramped that down somewhat, now merely promising a "really there" effect. That's not exactly truthful either, but it is kind of fun, warping and bending things as if the system's image was projected into a spherical screen. You feel compelled to tilt the system side-to-side to look around corners, and while that's partly because you have to if you want to see the extents of the screen (otherwise the edges are obscured), it does actually boost the immersion factor somewhat. However, it also reflects and distorts anything in the room, so turn out those lights.

Worth $40? Not really. It takes what was hardly a svelte system before and turns it into a brick -- a lightweight brick, but a brick nonetheless. If you're the sort who uses your PSP exclusively at home (and mostly in the dark), is willing to drop a couple Jacksons for a bit of a toy, and need the ultimate in immersion it might be worth a look. That said, we're going to go ahead and guess that isn't you.

Update: RealView wrote us to let us know this device has been delayed until a January release. Your stocking, like your hopes, has just been emptied.