To save those of you who are new to Sony’s shiny black wonder machine all the hassle, I've created an essential guide. It may need more adding to it, so feel free to suggest stuff (or suggest how crap it is!), but here goes:
PSP Essential Guide
This is the operating software for the PSP. As Sony release new firmware this can be downloaded from the net (and eventually from the PSP itself) giving you extra functions.
To find out what firmware version your PSP is. To do this, turn on your PSP, go to Settings > System Settings > System Information and click "X". A message should appear with "System Software Version" 1.0, 1.5, 1.51, 1.52 or 2.0.
Firmware 2.0 is what you will be using if you bought a UK PSP. Version 2.0 is an important update as it adds a full web browser and ATRAC music support for larger Memory Stick Pros (there are problems getting Atrac format music files to play on 512mb and 1gig Memory Sticks) as well as the ability to make wallpapers from your photos. It also supports a new codec (AVC video codec).
2.0 Emulators and ‘homebrew’ software.
Many people are writing emulators to let you play other console games on your PSP. Current ones include Megadrive, Atari ST, SNES and even Gameboy Advance. The emulators themselves are legal but the legality of any games you download is questionable.
If your PSP is firmware version 1.0 or 1.5, you can run homebrew games, emulators, and applications. If your PSP is firmware version 1.51, 1.52 or 2.0, you cannot run any homebrew software at present. Programmers are currently trying to get around the later firmware security.
Update: There is now a hack which you can download to change your PSP back to 1.5 Firmware in order to play these homebrew applications. Many people have tried it already with success, but there is always the danger you could corrupt the software and break the PSP. If you do use this, you can also download a neat little program that fools any games into thinking your firmware is up-to-date. This is needed due to some games (Virtua Tennis and Wipeout pure are 2 of them) needing a higher firmware version.
3.0 Putting Music on to your PSP.
Most PSP owners will want to have some music files on their PSP. Although the machine is no Ipod beater, it does a good job of storing and playing music.
Firstly, the music needs to be either MP3 or ATRAC3plus. ATRAC3plus Sony’s own format and is about half the size of an MP3 for the same quality.
To convert to ATRAC3 or simply just rip a CD to MP3 you can use many programs. Sony have their Sonicstage software, which is pretty simple to use, but more experienced computer users might find it too basic.
To download to your PSP, connect a PSP link cable to your USB port and to the PSP. In the PSP menu, choose USB mode. Find the drive that pops up on your PC and make sure there is a folder called Music inside. If not, create one.
You can drag your MP3 files into this or into separate folders to create albums and then create a playlist to determine the order of the tracks.
A PSP from any country can play games from any country. However, a PSP can only play UMD films from its own region (eg Asian PSP can only play Asian UMD films) This is important to remember when you buy a PSP on import. Some recent films (most notably the free Spiderman 2 UMD given away by Sony) seem to be region free, playable in any PSP.
5.0 Copying movies
Movies and video can be played on the PSP, but they need to be in MP4 format. One of the best (free) tools for this is psp video 9 (from www.pspvideo9.com). Once converted DO NOT change the name of the file.
To upload this to the PSP: connect the USB link lead to the PC and PSP. Again, go to Settings and USB Connection to put the PSP into USB mode. Open the drive on your PC.
Create a folder inside the drive called "MP_ROOT", Create it on the root folder only. Inside that folder, create the folder, "100MNV01".
Move your movies to this folder, then choose ‘Eject’ to close the connection between the PSP and the PC.
6.0 memory Sticks
You can use any Memory Stick DUO, but not old style Memory Sticks. These come in 32mb to 2gb varieties. If you can afford it, it’s best to get a 1gb or more, as this will fit much more on. The 32mb one which comes with the machine is far too small for movie files and will only fit 1 album of music at low quality, alongside your game saves.
Mine's perfect, too! :-)