The U-Bend #41: Tech File: The PSP and You (and a PSPotter Interview)

by Andrew Lee and Robert Lanto

“That’ll change the world, that report will.”
-Ron Weasley (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

 

Editor’s note: By the third paragraph, you may be thinking, “Why the &@*# do I want to read about PSP? Get rid of The U-Bend already!” To that, I say, “Shut up. And keep reading.”
Hi everybody! Andrew here (Robert’s just tagging along today) with a nice non-magical article for you. Today I’m going to talk to you about the bad boy of handheld videogame systems (although it is more of a multimedia device): the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP for short). Sporting a not so friendly entry price but enough features to keep you entertained while on the go, the PSP has carved a fair-sized chunk of the portable videogame market. But the PSP does more than play games, you can listen to music (like my ripped “Philosopher’s Stone” soundtrack…paid for legally, of course), browse the internet (make sure to set MuggleNet as your homepage), watch movies (which I’ll discuss in a minute) and so much more. Of course the PSP isn’t perfect. I prefer to call it: a multimedia device that does so much…just not well (ask anyone about the naming conventions used for the filing systems).

So, what does this have to do with Harry Potter? Well, quite a bit actually. First, Warner Bros. has released both UMD versions (think of them as mini-DVDs) of “Philospher’s Stone” and “Goblet of Fire.” Besides the outrageous price for “Goblet of Fire” (here in Canada the DVD version is cheaper) it is the best way to get your fix of a Harry Potter film while on a long trip in a nice convenient portable form. Although, if the recent rumors are true, you might want to pick up the Potter movie UMDs for their collector’s value since Wal-Mart might be dropping UMDs from their stores.

For the hardcore, you can rip, convert and place any Potter film (or any movie) on the PSP’s Memory Stick. (Tip: The PSP comes with a 32 MB stick which is functional for saving games. If you want to listen to MP3s or watch movies off of the stick you will need a 512 MB stick or higher.) If staring at a 480 x 272 pixel screen for 2 and 1/2 hours doesn’t make you go blind first.

(Tip: The PSP’s battery life is about 4-6 hours depending on your settings. Buy a battery adapter, the longer life battery or be prepared to have the PSP shut down when Voldemort is revealed.)

So besides watching some Potter films, what else can you do? Well, you can browse the internet if you have access to a wireless network. Simpler text pages work best (visiting jkrowling.com in text-only format is a must), but the PSP can handle pages with a moderate amount of graphics (so you can surf MuggleNet). But the most interesting feature is the community that has sprouted up to support the PSP.

Which finally gets me to the point of this article (Editor’s note: Told ya.): to talk about a Harry Potter-related magazine formatted for the PSP. Calling itself PSPotter, it promises to be an interesting way to quickly read about Harry Potter while on the go. Promising monthly issues and loads of content (hoping you add a wallpaper of the month) the magazine shows a lot of promise. Sure, you could just extract the magazine and look at it on your computer (hint hint for those of you who don’t own PSPs), but where’s the fun in that?

(Tip for non-PSP owners: To view PSPotter without actually owning a PSP, simply do the following: A) Buy a PSP or B) Unzip the contents of the PSPotter folder to your desktop and open the .jpg files with your favorite picture viewer. By default for Windows XP this is Windows Picture Viewer but Microsoft Paint, Adobe Photoshop or ACDSee will work just fine.)

Now some of you may ask why should you read an electronic magazine formatted for the PSP? Well, it’s just another use of its multimedia functionality. A nice pocket-sized read for a pocket-sized device (well, if you have big pockets). It won’t replace the in-depth, up-to-date goodness of your favorite online Potter sites and forums, but it is a creative way for fans to show there appreciation of J.K. Rowling’s work.

I recently talked with Josh Kirklin, the founder and creator of PSPotter. Here’s what he had to say:

U-Bend: Who are you? Where did you come from?
PSPotter: My name is Josh Kirklin. I live in London, England.UB: What do you do?
PSP: I am a schoolboy who loves making movies, and anything to do with computing and PSP.

UB: When did you first read Harry Potter?
PSP: When I was six and Prisoner of Azkaban was released.

UB: Why are you a fan?
PSP: The plot is exciting and unexpected, and at the same time reminds me of my own school experiences. So that even though Harry Potterlives in a magic world, it’s easy to enter it.

UB: Favorite characters?
PSP: Neville Longbottom and Albus Dumbledore.

UB: Favorite book?
PSP: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

UB: Why PSPotter?
PSP: I like to read different magazines around the web and I love to listen to podcasts about Harry Potter. I thought it would be a great idea to merge the two together on a portable medium.

UB: Why the PSP?
PSP: PSPs are used by people around the world, many of whom are Potter fans. I thought there might be an audience for this idea.

UB: How long did it take to make the first issue?
PSP: I did it all in one evening. The second edition is more sophisticated and took a lot longer.

UB: Any difficulties in making the issue?
PSP: Yes, it was hard to get the font size right and to get the page size PSP appropriate.

UB: What kind of help are you looking for in future issues?
PSP: I already have a writing partner in Simon Morris and we have lots of ideas for the future. We’re open to all sorts of suggestions and contributions, including news items, theories and contributions to our new sections called Muggles Matter, HP Source and Peeves’s Jokes. The website for this mag is at www.pspotter.com and Issue 2 is now available at the site. You can also subscribe to the mailing list and will be e-mailed each issue when it comes out.

In the end, the PSP is another way to get your fix of Harry Potter while on the move. It’s not as cost-efficient as a laptop, but the PSP is a nice device. It’s not the most efficient device for the cost, but I recommend at least trying it. With magazines like PSPotter making an interesting use of the PSP’s capabilities, it’s nice to see other Harry Potter fans spreading their interest in all forms of media. After all, we can’t always listen to podcasts…well except Mugglenet’s. I could listen to that all day.

That concludes this U-Bend: Tech File. Join us next time when we look at the Magic 8 Ball. Cheap plastic toy or divination’s next secret weapon?

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