From the second you unbox it and hold it in your hands -- I'm talking before even powering it on -- the PSP Go looks and feels like the coolest thing ever. You'll probably spend a solid couple of minutes just sliding the screen up and down, up and down. It's good, then, that the whole thing feels so well made that you're not thinking, "One more slide and this screen is coming off."
You might also be concerned about this considerably smaller PSP simply slipping out of your grip. As it turns out, the two-tiered configuration, along with the rounded edges of the lower "control section," perfectly placed shoulder buttons and two grippy pads on the back of the system really lock the device into your hands, with the screen resting nicely on your trigger fingers.
From the second you unbox it and hold it in your hands, the PSP Go looks and feels like the coolest thing ever.
I was a little concerned at first that the decision to place the volume, screen brightness and mute / EQ buttons on top of the system -- and thus out of view while playing -- was a huge design mistake. As it turns out, it only takes a short amount of time playing around with the Go before your index fingers know exactly where these buttons are, and they're easily reachable by reaching your fingers just a little past the shoulder buttons.
Moving to the front of the system, the placement of the D-pad, analog nub and the face buttons looks like it could be cramped, but isn't. Yes, these buttons are considerably closer together than on the UMD-based PSP, but they feel perfectly spaced once you have the Go in your hands. In order to accommodate the screen sliding over them, they're recessed, but it doesn't feel weird. Also, while I wasn't able to test a 2D fighter on the system (my copy of Street Fighter Alpha 3
is on UMD -- go figure!) the D-pad feels like it should handle them well.
The other aspect of the hardware that really shines (no pun intended) is the screen itself. Yes, it's smaller than the screen on the larger, UMD-based PSPs, but I'd gladly trade the size for the quality of the Go's display. Chiefly -- and sure to be great news for everyone who hated this about the PSP-3000 -- the screen is ghosting-free without everything looking "interlaced" or blocky. That and, due to its smaller size, games look just a little bit smoother,
for lack of a better description.
On the software side, the Go offers up a couple of neat tricks, one of which we've found very, very nice. That'd be the "Pause Game" feature, something I'd already tested out
and that works great. Less functional but still "neat" is the built-in clock and calendar that appear when you close the system while no games/movies/music are being played. There's a big, floating analog clock (you can make "waves" in the fluid it appears to be floating in using the shoulder buttons) and a simple calendar that pops up when you press both L and R simultaneously.