Value in the PSP Value Pack? - A CAG Editorial
In North America, customers interested in purchasing a Sony PSP have two choices- buy the Value Pack bundle for $250 or donít buy a PSP. The Value Pack (or Ensemble de Valeur as itís known in France) includes a 32MB Sony Memory Stick, headphones, remote, case, cloth, wrist strap and Spiderman 2 UMD.
Many gamers have no interest in these additional items and, since there is no a la carte PSP option, are holding off buying a PSP. Here in the US, there has been no official word from Sony about any other purchase options besides the Value Pack. However, if the Japanese market is any indication, Americans will eventually be able to buy a PSP, sans accessories, at a reduced price.
Is there any value in the PSP Value Pack? Letís break it down, CAG style.
According to http://www.Yodobashi.co.jp
, a popular Japan-based electronics retailer, a solo PSP retails for 20,700 yen or $192 US. Iím no economist, but I bet a straight currency conversion isnít fair, so letís give Sony the benefit of the doubt and price a Value Pack-less PSP at $200 US. Just what does our (lack of willpower and) $50 get us?
The Value Pack:
Camera shy: Cloth
32MB Sony Memory Stick Duo
Isnít it great when electronics companies force you to pay for an accessory thatís barely adequate to get the job done, all but requiring you to buy a superior replacement? Youíll notice this theme running through most of these items. In fact, the Value Pack may be the crowning achievement in useless accessory pack marketing. Before we get ahead of ourselves, letís get back to the grossly undersized Memory Stick. Itís perfectly adequate for saving game information, but if you want to take advantage of the PSPís audio/video functionality (and you will), you must purchase a larger card. A minutes worth of MP3 takes up 1MB of memory, so I recommend a 512MB card. If you do your homework (and arenít afraid of eBay), you can get one for $60 or so. At $120-$150, the 1GB cards are too pricey right now in my opinion.
Value: $15 (according to eBay)
Cheapy says: Buy a bigger Memory Stick, ASAP.
Like most headphones that are included with audio products, the PSP's earbud headphones are terrible and should be replaced immediately. They are uncomfortable after 5 minutes of use and have no bass response whatsoever. Gamers who actually use these things with their PSP will be doing themselves a great disservice. And whatís up with the ďiPod Biting WhiteĒ color scheme? Not only does it not match the PSP, it also flashes the ďiPod AlertĒ to all muggers in the immediate area.
Value: $0 (-$250 and possible lacerations and/or gunshot wounds if you get mugged)
Cheapy says: Replace immediately. I recommend some cheap ass $20 Koss headphones.
The remote allows you to access music controls while your PSPís controls are out of reach (read: in your pocket). The cord is about 3 feet long and, to the delight of muggers, is also ďiPod Biting White.Ē There are 5 buttons and a Hold switch which locks the remote. The buttons allow you to increase/decrease volume, play/pause, and forward/backward track select (and fast forward/rewind when held). The remote is functional, but in an absolutely minimal way. It does not even have an LCD screen like my 5 year-old MD player.
Value: $10 (a good MD remote with LCD screen sells for $40)
Cheapy says: If you want a remote, this is the only option currently available.
I predict that most of you will never take the strap out of its packaging. Itís pretty dorky looking. Sure, it might keep your PSP from hitting the floor, but at what cost? The strap is also white and is made of 100% Pleather. The only excuse for using this would be if you are incredibly clumsy or if you have recently suffered some kind of wrist trauma.
Cheapy says: Real men donít use straps.
Spiderman 2 UMD
Sony has said that the first million Value Packs shipped to the US will include a UMD of the Spiderman 2 movie. The movie looks and sounds great, but comes with no bonus features (or even DVD- style scene selection). I imagine that most gamers have seen the movie already, but even so, itís still the best included ďextraĒ in the Value Pack.
Cheapy says: You may actually watch this.
You are probably going to want a case for your PSP since itís likely not going to remain in one piece without some kind of protection. Since it doesnít actually open or close, the included case is really more of a padded sleeve, but letís call it a case for the purposes of this article. The case is a bit bulky, but at least itís not white. As soon as Logitechís $20 PlayGear Pocket Case is released (4/14/05), I think the Value Pack cases are going to find new homes in closets all across America. Logitechís effort is actually a case that opens and closes (imagine that!) and best of all, allows you to use your PSP while itís still inside. Depending on how you use it, the top of the case can swivel to form a viewing stand, useful for watching movies, or a visor to help cut down on screen glare.
Cheapy says: Logitechís case looks like it will be worth the $20. Weíll have to wait a week or so to find out.
Thereís not much to say about the cloth whose function is to keep the PSPís screen clean. The cloth is about 4x4, gray(ish), and has no Sony or PSP markings on it whatsoever.
Cheapy says: Itís a cloth.
The Bottom Line
If we add up all the assigned amounts, we learn that our $50 Value Pack only contains a grand total of $40 worth of stuff. Even worse, a PSP owner would likely want to replace most, if not all, of the Value Pack items except the cloth, of course (I know I will never part with mine).
There is no question that the only true value in the PSP Value Pack is the PSP itself. Those who want a PSP now and can spring for the extra $50 will do so and probably wonít be disappointed. Those who arenít willing to break the $200 barrier will be content to wait for Sony to sell the PSP a la carte. Frankly, regardless of oneís views on Sony, its sales and marketing strategies, and the PSP/Value Pack, itís hard not to be amazed that such a small, technologically advanced multimedia device is available at a price under $300.
Besides, who can put a price on instant gratification? Oh yeah, its $50.