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Final Verdict: and the Best Portable Gaming Console Is...

PSP Go vs. Dsi and iPhone
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Which portable console is the best?

We found Nintendo’s DSi to be the best gaming console overall, both because of its wide range of available titles and its unique gameplay functions. It is the technologically weakest of the three devices, but developers have learned quickly how to use the DSi’s user interface properly, and many of the games available for the DSi are excellently designed. The PSP may have larger, better looking, and more intensive games, but worse battery life and limited collection of available titles for the Go keep it behind the DSi. The Touch, alternatively, is excellent for casual titles, but it has a very limited number of intensive games that are properly executed with the given controls. If a true gaming interface were introduced for the Touch/iPhone, we would seriously revisit this issue.

However, the DSi  has weaknesses that could be problematic for some users. It is the least portable, the worst media player, and offers the least amount of downloadable content. It doesn’t try to be anything but a strict gaming device.

While it has the most highly rated games available (Touch games are not rated by Metacritic, but we have kept track of a large number of Touch games available), the DSi still seldom gets a new title, and for gamers who spend lots of time on the road and want a console to play lots of games over long periods of time, the PSP or Touch are better options. The original PSP (not the Go) has a large number of intensive, long games, some with online play, as well as decent media options. The Touch, alternatively, has a giant and growing database of available games and is a better media player.

If price is a serious issue, the DSi is the cheapest device, new or used.

The PSP Go, while an excellent device, seems overpriced at $250. The standard PSP offers a much wider selection of games for nearly $100 less, only sacrificing portability and internal memory. For today’s money-conscious consumers, we cannot recommend the PSP Go unless portability is the requirement of the console.

One thing is clear after testing the latest portable gaming consoles: there is incredible room for growth. While we don’t expect to see any new hardware from Nintendo or Sony for another two years, or a significant upgrade from Apple within the same time frame, the mobile gaming market is the largest part of today’s gaming industry. We can’t wait to test the next batch of portable consoles and see where the platform evolves.

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  • 3 Hide
    kclamer , October 23, 2009 8:43 PM
    The specs for the DSi are listed in correctly above. These are the official specs.
    CPU:2x ARM CPUs; ARM9 and ARM7.The main CPU is clocked at 133 MHz.
    RAM: 16 MB of RAM
    Storage: 256 MB of internal flash memory with an SD card (up to 2 GB) and SDHC card (up to 32 GB) expansion slot.
    Also under extras the two video cameras should be mentioned.
  • 2 Hide
    quantumrand , October 24, 2009 6:58 AM
    Ok, I dont agree with the conclusions of this article at all.

    First of all, the DSi is far to lacking to take the crown. It does have an innovative touch concept, but the interface doesnt work for gaming. For most of its titles, the DSi's touch screen seemed to force developers to use it, making the game unplayable (the Mario 64 remake for example).

    For the iPhone, I dont even know how it made the list...Any REAL game is utterly unplayable on the iPhone due to its lack of tactile buttons. All of the games that do work well on the iPhone are pretty worthless compared the offerings of the PSP and DS.

    The PSP Go is ridiculously overpriced, I'll agree to that, but the PSP 2000/3000 does not particularly lack in storage space as you suggest. There are affordable 16-32GB memory sticks available (not that you'd need that much given the UMD disk drive).

    Comparing the PSP Go to the DSi is a close race, but the Go really does come out ahead, but the DSi doesn't really stand up to the PSP 2000/3000 very well at all.

    If I were to tally it up, the PSP would take first, the DSi second, and the iPhone third, trailing far far faaaaar behind.
  • 0 Hide
    chinesemafia69 , October 24, 2009 7:05 AM
    i do not agree with quantumrand
    the reason is because of the enormous potential the iphones have...
    i hardware-wise, its the best in the crowd and developers are currently creating an actual controllers for the iphones therefore eliminates the controls issue
  • 5 Hide
    quantumrand , October 24, 2009 7:12 AM
    Oh, and on a few of your points:

    The 16:9 screen ratio of the PSP is completely ideal. I'd prefer black lines on the crummier quality standard resolution shows and the perfect fit for the nice quality epic films that use the 16:9 ratio. Not to mention, the other devices will leave black lines on both 4:3 ratios as well as 16:9.

    Next, the price of the iPhone FAR exceeds the price of the PSP Go and the DSi. Not only is it $200 to begin with, it includes a $70/month minimum 2-year subscription. That adds up to almost $1900. Even if you're already paying for a data cell phone plan, the additional charges that come with the iPhone's plan is still $20 more than your basic data plans, making it still a whopping $700.
  • 3 Hide
    quantumrand , October 24, 2009 7:22 AM
    chinesemafia69i do not agree with quantumrandthe reason is because of the enormous potential the iphones have...i hardware-wise, its the best in the crowd and developers are currently creating an actual controllers for the iphones therefore eliminates the controls issue


    I have yet to see any word on controllers for the iPhone, and I don't see them being very likely unless their made by Apple directly, in which case, adding an additional $30 to its already exorbitant cost.

    An Android phone on the other hand could have controllers developed by pretty much anyone, and there's already several Android phones with better hardware than the iPhone 3GS. Why didn't any of those make the list I wonder?
  • 1 Hide
    ddkshah , October 24, 2009 5:33 PM
    Hmmmm could I get sales number for the two.
  • 0 Hide
    ddkshah , October 24, 2009 5:41 PM
    Also don't forget that this is about gaming and both the touch 3rd gen and iPhone 3gs have the same specs so it's
    the sales of BOTH vs android. And anyways the iPhone / touch is is also used for more than gaming so it kills the ds and psp both hardware sales and software.
  • 1 Hide
    ddkshah , October 24, 2009 5:45 PM
    i actually have to admit the dsi has Mario and pokemon series which kill everything both systems have :) 
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , October 24, 2009 7:38 PM
    This article is irrelevant. Take out the Iphone and it makes sense. The real handheld gaming competitors are the PSP and the DS series. Where the heck does the Iphone come into play in the handheld gaming world? You cannot play a real game on the Iphone. A REAL game for example is a full fledged RPG such as Final Fantasy. It has 50+ hours of unique gameplay. They take years to develop. They have a real story... real characters... real controls... and real meaning. That my friends is a REAl game, not a silly little tilt screen flash type game that you only play when you are bored. Even if they did make a silly controller for the Iphone... what then? It becomes a home console that you carry with you? WHAT THE HECK? It loses its handheld meaning then. You would have to carry the phone and a controller just to play a few low quality pitiful games from Apple. Stick with the real handheld gaming devices. The PSP and DS series are both the winners. I love them both! Sony and Nintendo are the original big time companies and they always will be!
  • 1 Hide
    jamezrp , October 25, 2009 1:41 AM
    kclamer: You're right, and we made the changes. The cameras are already listed below on that list.

    Quantumrand: In terms of games, the PSP does not beat the DS in general. The DS simply has more higher rated titles. The PSP, as mentioned, have deeper, more intensive games that are made for players to enjoy hours and hours of gameplay. Yet simultaneously, it lacks the battery life to even complete one title fully, whereas the DS, and the DSi specifically, can do so.

    That said, the iPhone/iPod Touch are excellent examples of devices that can play games, but don't have the average tactile feedback most gamers are used to. I'll happily admit that most intensive titles for the iPhone/Touch are not suited for most players, but there are so many simpler, more DS-like games that properly use the touchscreen that it not only works as a portable gaming console, but could possibly replace it.

    As you have read, we don't believe it does fully, but it certainly is a contender.

    Android was looked at, but the current number of available games make it far too unlikely for anyone to purchase as a game console, at least for the time being. If Android grows as we expect it to, then we will certainly include it should we do another similar feature.

    Sonyandnintendo: what do you define as a real game? If you think that games like Final Fantasy, Pokemon, Mario, Grand Theft Auto are games, and little else, then I would most certainly agree with you. But what about Brain Age? What about Resident Evil, Pac Man, Mass Effect, Spore, Rock Band, Bejeweled, Need For Speed, The Sims, and Madden?

    If you think those are games as well, then according to your definition, the iPhone/Touch are extremely capable to play games, and have the games worthy of their purchase. Each of those titles I listed is available, today, for the iPhone/Touch.

    That's not to say such big-name titles are the only available games for the iPhone/Touch. Casual titles like Yahtzee, Sudoku, Monopoly, Tetris, Solitaire, Chess, Backgammon, etc. are also on the iPhone/Touch, most of the time better developed and cheaper than on the PSP or DS, if not only available on it. In fact, the few identical casual titles we played on the DSi and iPhone couldn't even be compared: the iPhone just killed the competition.

    As someone who owns all three devices, I can safely say that I use my iPhone the most for gaming, mostly because of its portability and the fact that I have it on me at all times. And most of the time, I play the casual titles, not the more intensive ones.
  • 2 Hide
    quantumrand , October 25, 2009 8:22 AM
    You claim to use your iPhone the most for games, but the question is do you play them to kill time, or do you play them because you want to play some games? I'm willing to bet you play them because you want to kill time.

    And as for those more intense titles for the iPhone that you mentioned, all of them are either stripped down into casual little side apps based on the original game, or essentially unplayable due to the laggy and complicated interface.

    I'll agree that the DSi and PSP Go are very close competitors. The DSi certainly does have more titles, and some make very effective use of its innovative interface; nonetheless, most of its titles suffer because of it (as I mentioned before, developers feel forced to use it).

    I think given the PSP 2000/3000 pricetag, it beats the DSi as the top portable gaming system. If I were going to be on a bus for several hours, I would choose the PSP over the DSi. You review seems to focus more on the casual games you would play while waiting for the bus, rather than while riding it, and the only reason the iPhone seems to make the list is because you're already carrying it with you as a cell phone.
  • 1 Hide
    jamezrp , October 25, 2009 9:31 AM
    It depends what you want to do with it. Most people, as sales show, want a portable device that's small, affordable, and has games that are both fun but only require 5-30 minutes of gameplay a sitting. That's the DS or Touch. The PSP, Go or otherwise, have few games that commit to that, and for the most part they are rated terribly.

    As for why I play games on my iPhone more, its for two reasons: I carry it around and have the games easily available (meaning I can purchase and download them anywhere within minutes), and because I have a wide variety of choices. I can say with undue certainty that games like The Sims 3 and Resident Evil 4 on the iPhone are as intensive as 90% of the titles on the PSP.

    There may be less of them to go around, but its also only had games for a little over a year, as opposed to the PSP's four.

    I will say that I'm more in your boat: I like the PSP more, and the Go especially, because I like bigger, longer games that don't look like they were made in 1927. I play games on the DS as well, but it's clearly not the same experience. However, there is no denying its appeal, like the Wii. I don't like the Wii and find it collecting dust while my 360 and PS3 are played almost daily.

    For plane rides, long car rides where I'm not driving, or basically any trip where I don't have the option of getting away from a game, I'd take the PSP over everything else. The DS has very few titles that I could say without a doubt would win me over for such an occasion. Sadly, that occasion rarely happens for me and for most people, and we're stuck with a half hour here, and a half hour there. Thus, the DSi and Touch are more...suited for our needs.
  • 2 Hide
    matt87_50 , October 26, 2009 1:20 AM
    last I read, the iphone dev stuff recommends using 24 meg of video ram at most.

    which is still tones compared to the others.

    the iphone should be the best technically IN THEORY. but god of war on the PSP looks way better than anything i've ever seen on the iphone. maybe it's just that iphone devs are n00bs, but I get this worrying feeling that the awesome hardware in the iphone is either not as awesome as it looks on paper, or the OS or sdk is limiting its full potential (not on purpose, I mean cause its shit). the non 3GS spec stuff doesn't even have a stencil buffer... be interesting to see what the 3GS can offer.

    all a moot point until someone releases a controller peripheral for the iphone anyway.

    the dsi is just two cheaply made (mine got a dead pixel and the hinge broke, ds lite this was) and too expensive for the antiquated hardware, it IS the best layout tho, can't wait for an nvidia tegra powered DS2!
  • 0 Hide
    jamezrp , October 26, 2009 2:02 AM
    Matt87_50, I don't know about the recommendations for iPhone development, but you're right, games like Gran Turismo PSP and God of War: Chains of Olympus look excellent, better than games on the iPhone/Touch. Some games do look almost as good, like id's Doom Resurrection and Resident Evil 4 (albeit its blockly like Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7).

    But yes, as soon as the iPhone gets a decent controller peripheral, which I fear may never happen because Apple seems quite pleased with their device currently, it will never truly compete with the controls of game consoles.

    And I totally agree! The DS2 should be amazing, using Tegra. Still love it on the Zune, and the tech has certainly proved itself. We just need to get it out on the market, but it doesn't look like that'll happen for at least another year, if not two.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 26, 2009 11:26 PM
    I got to give this guy credit for researching and writing this reveiw. But I do disagree with his concluion. The dsi shouldn't have been the winner. Sure its got a long battery life and a lot of titles its a good device for a kid for a teen I think you should get a psp go. Great games like Grand Trismo, star wars battlefront, and my fav. Rainbow 6 are some of the more mature titles offered. The music great and the playstation store offers many great tv shows and movies for download, also movie trailors and behind the sceens of movies is offered for free!
  • 0 Hide
    jamezrp , October 27, 2009 12:21 AM
    Capt C O L E, appreciate the sentiment! I will disagree, however, for a few reasons. First, the PSP Go is extremely expensive, especially compared to the competition, and it's much easier to recommend the PSP-3000 instead. Second, great games are indeed available for both titles, with more intensive, adult-oriented games for the PSP, but that's not to say the DS doesn't have equally enjoyable titles as well. While I can name ten good PSP games off the top of my head, I can name an equal number of DS games that are just Mario titles.

    But for multimedia content, you are absolutely correct. The DSi doesn't compare, and the iPhone does, but is much more limited because it's a closed device. I've been enjoying TV shows and movies on the Go that I can't get on the iPhone without either paying again or converting the files.

    That said, if I had to choose one for an island stay, I'd choose the PSP because I'd rather spend time with more intensive titles than with simpler, casual ones. But it depends on the situation. I hate short sessions on the PSP because they're, well, short. The DS works great with such time restraints, and though the PSP is getting better, it just doesn't have the content to make it the better gaming console. It's a close and tough call.
  • 0 Hide
    pender21 , October 30, 2009 8:44 AM
    I own all three devices (iPhone). I only carry the iPhone. If it were an iPod touch, I still would only carry the ipod Touch with me.

    Iphone games are quite innovative (for pickup and play) and they are cheap in comparison (most under $8). Some games are more hardcore like gangstarr or realracing. You can also buy them over 3G while on commute. Also (with exception to the PSPGo and not regular PSP), you don't need to carry game cartridges. PSP-1000 through 3000 can rip UMD to MS (i know).

    Hearing about a new iPhone game through the grapevine and not through advertisements or game review is usually a nice surprise when the game is very well made and enjoyable.

    PSP is not the multimedia master Sony advertises, Music playback is clunky, but Video playback is good when off MS (and not UMD video) and encoding is quite automated now. If Sony wants it to be a multimedia player, they should make desktop software to accompany and compliment the device - eventhough Sony has always had terrible software for their portable audio/video devices. Sony also botched the PSPGo and confirmed it themselves with the PSP-4000 announcement.

    Ninentdo DSi is a casual gaming device and nothing more because it can not do anymore. Also carrying game cartridges around with you is a point to consider.

    I personally feel that when I pay for a game on the iPhone, I am actually supporting development of the platform and its games. I don't on the other two - it feels like a chore to try out a game that may or may not be good. Also, i know that 30% of the money goes directly to the developer.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 13, 2009 5:43 PM
    The dsi price it is much more that it is supose to be it is 169.99 right now but is should be wourth about 59.99 sorry but not much difference from normald ds, I think ds is better than dsi.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2009 1:08 PM
    Alrighty guys. Which gaming device is better? My answer. None of them. I have both a DS and PSPgo and find that overall my DS is the better device, however that is most likely because I have only 2 games, which are PSOneClassics on PSP. I would myself like to get an iPod Touch, but cant cause I just got a PSPgo. However I myself thinks iPods look cool. All three of them are good for what they are meant to do, none of them are better than the other, each have their own faults. Kinda like the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 5, 2010 8:25 PM
    quantumrand, sure the iPhone is very expensive, but the iPod Touch 3G (which you conveniently seem to be ignoring) is not nearly so bad in that department. Furthermore, the Touch 3G actually has slightly better performance than the iPhone 3GS not to mention being more portable, so if you're going to pick a fight with Apple over mobile gaming, look towards the Touch not the iPhone.

    The PSP is a solid device, but let's face facts it's showing its age. iPod Touches are more powerful, have a fantastic touch screen, and extremely accurate motion sensor, things that open up possibilities the PSP can only dream of.

    Also remember that the Touch is just getting started when it comes to real gaming, so what you've seen so far is only scratching the surface of what is possible for the device, not so with the ageing PSP.

    Btw you claim that the iPhone/Touch are unplayable, but I beg to differ. Personally it only took me a couple of hours to fully adapt to using a touch screen and motion sensor. I guess some old school gamers simply can't adapt to new cutting edge interfaces *sad face*
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