Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Speeding Up Wireless Internet Access

To save battery life, the PSP defaults to a “wireless power saving” mode, which lowers the transmit and receive speed of the built-in wireless. To improve wireless performance, especially for Internet access, you should turn that mode off. Of course, it will eat more battery power, but play around with it and see what you think.
You may actually need to disable the wireless power saving mode, as some wireless access points and devices aren’t compatible with the power saving feature of the PSP, so knowing how to do this may help you when you can’t connect in certain places.
Follow these steps to disable wireless power saving mode:
1. Use the PSP Navigator to select Settings, and then Power Settings.
2. Select the WLAN Power Save option and press X to select it.
3. Set the option to Off and press X again.

How to Create an Ad-Hoc PSP Wireless Profile?

If you’re just going to do some quick gaming with friends, you all need to have the same network name, or SSID, so you can all connect with each other. Once everyone has the same profile, you can all connect and play your games together.
The PSP doesn’t actually let you set your SSID in Ad Hoc Mode, so it just defaults to a generic name beginning with PSP, followed by a number of different characters. This can vary depending on the game you’re playing, too, as some games will set a different SSID to differentiate the PSP hosting the game from the other PSPs in the vicinity (which may be hosting games, too). Unfortunately, this means anyone with a PSP and the same game could potentially join in your game (if your game supports uninvited joins), so feel free to be paranoid and check to see who’s around you before you start a wireless match.
If you switch to Ad Hoc Mode, you will have to switch back to Infrastructure Mode at the Network Setting menu before you can use your PSP in infrastructure mode again.
Follow these steps to set up an Ad Hoc network:
  1. Use the PSP Navigator to select Settings and then Network Settings. Select the Ad Hoc Mode option and press X
  2. Set the channel to Automatic and press X.
  3. Press X to save the settings.

How to Set Up a WiFi Networking Profile

The PSP’s networking capabilities are very similar to a Macintosh’s, where you can set up different network profiles for use in different locations.
To set up a network profile, go to the PSP Navigator, select Settings, and then select Network Settings. You are given two options, both of which pertain only to wireless networking—Ad Hoc Mode and Infrastructure Mode-3). If you’re not familiar with the difference between the two, read the sidebar “Wireless Modes in Focus: Ad Hoc and Infrastructure.” Ad Hoc Mode is generally used when playing head-to-head with multiple PSPs in close proximity (10–20 feet), as it doesn’t require a base station. Infrastructure is useful when there are multiple people in different rooms and you use a central base station to connect.
It’s actually a good thing that most PSP games limit wireless play to eight players. As wireless networks get more and more crowded, the devices’ transmissions adversely affect the overall available bandwidth and you could lose data and therefore have poor gameplay. Remember, when you’re on an 11 Mbps wireless network, you’re sharing that bandwidth with everybody else, so the more you do on the network, the less bandwidth that’s available for others. This is especially true if you’re trying to play a PSP game with eight people while someone’s downloading a huge file and printing a large document over your wireless network—there’s a good possibility of losing packets and having issues with gaming.
Let’s go through configuration of both network types. Some games may actually require one type over another—the back of the box says “Wi-Fi Compatible (Ad Hoc/Infrastructure),”. Some games may not support wireless play at all and won’t have the Wi-Fi Compatible logo on their box at all.

Turning Wireless On and Off

To enable and disable the built-in wireless of your PSP, simply flip the switch on its left side. Up enables wireless and down disables it. This doesn’t turn wireless on, however. Games and applications selectively turn the wireless feature on and off, so you can safely leave the switch up and it will only actually be “on” when an application needs it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

PSP Firmware Versions and Why They Matter

The PSP has a “flashable” firmware, meaning it can be updated with bug fixes, and upgraded with new capabilities. This enables Sony to support new technologies as they emerge, address vulnerabilities in the PSP software (such as Web browser and buffer overrun vulnerabilities), and keep the product competitive as the market evolves. Unfortunately for us hackers, Sony removed the ability to program the PSP on our own starting with the 1.51 “update,” which featured “security updates”—just another way of saying “we don’t want software developers.” Of course, you don’t have to update to run most games on your 1.0 or 1.5 firmware PSP, and there are utilities, such as the WAB Version Changer to get around such issues.

If you are not going to program the PSP, the upgrades from Sony can be quite a boon.With firmware update 2.0, officially named System Software 2.0, Sony added a Web browser, enhanced wireless network access (supporting additional encryption technologies such as WPA and PSK), and support for MPEG-4, or AAC, audio files. These new features greatly enhanced the PSP’s already impressive media capabilities. If you want to program a 1.5 PSP and still have these capabilities.

  • 1.0 Original Japanese release.
  • 1.5 Original U.S. release. Added copy protection, disabling the native ability to run homebrew applications. The KXploit, covered in Chapter 19, “Running Homebrew Applications,” handles running these applications on this firmware. A notable change in the U.S. version: the X and O button functionality was reversed (O goes back and X is select, whereas it was the opposite in Japan).
  • 1.51 Added “security updates,” which simply disabled the KXploit’s ability to run. No games required the 1.51 update. If you have a game that requires 1.51, and you have 1.5, you can use the WAB Version Changer to trick the PSP into thinking it’s running 1.51.
  • 1.52 Added “security updates” as well as UMD Music support. No games appeared to require the 1.52 update. If you have a game that requires 1.52, and you have 1.5, you can use the WAB Version Changer to trick the PSP into thinking it’s running 1.52.
  • 2.0 Added a Web browser, MPEG-4 audio support and additional image format (TIFF, GIF, PNG and BMP/Bitmap) support. New video playback capabilities were added, including a “Go To” format and 4:3 “Full Frame” video playback mode. Personalization features were added, including the ability to change the color of the background and to add a wallpaper, or background image. Also provided additional “security updates” and some new operating-system functionality. Some games check for the existence of 2.0 firmware. More information about this massive update is available on Sony’s Web site.

PSP Battery Life

Compared to other portable gaming systems, the PSP is not only more powerful, it’s also more power hungry. Indeed, with a 333 MHz processor, ultra-bright widescreen color display, wireless networking, and an optical UMD drive to run, the battery is working overtime to make sure you stay entertained for hours on end. Thankfully, Sony has included a rechargeable 1800 mAh Lithium Ion battery to help out—normal alkaline batteries wouldn’t survive the load for long and would be darn expensive to replace all the time. On a full charge, you will get (and independent organizations have confirmed this) up to six hours of battery life when playing video games, and up to four hours for movies. This is assuming you’re running the screen at half intensity and half volume with wireless off. I tend to run with the brightness and volume all the way up, so take about 10 percent off that figure if you play the same way.

• Game Boy Advance, 15 hours
• Game Boy Color, 10 hours
• Game Boy DS, 6–10 hours
• PSP, 6 hours

Full Technical Specifications of the PSP

Here are the fairly official technical specifications of Sony’s flagship handheld:

· Size: 170 mm (6.7 in) in length, 74 mm (2.9 in) in width, and 23 mm (0.9 in) in depth, weighs 280g / .62 lbs (Source:Wikipedia)

· Processor: 32-bit MIPS “R4000” 4KE or 24KE, dual-core. Primary core is for standard system functions, including hardware-based data decryption. Second core, called the “Virtual Mobile Engine,” is for graphics processing, including native H.264 decoding.

o Speed: 1-333 MHz (although Sony has made mention to a cap of 222 MHz to conserve battery life) Programmers can get around the 222 MHz barrier in code.

o Runs on 0.8 to 1.2 volts

o Designed using a 90-nanometer process

· Graphics: Runs at 166 MHz, reconfigurable to handle particular processing tasks.

o 2 megabytes video memory

o Supports a maximum of 33 million polygons/second, although the effective polygon performance is likely much lower (many critics don’t like the “max” polygons rating because it excludes the use of effects like lighting, fog, and so forth)

o 664 million pixels/second maximum fill rate

o 512-bit interface

o Supports 16-bit and 32-bit color modes (32,768 colors and 16.77 million colors)

· Audio: Supports Stereo sound, Dolby Headphone sound. Supports playback of WAV, ATRAC and MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3) audio in Firmware 1.0 and 1.5, and adds AAC (MPEG-4) audio in Firmware 2.0.

· Display: 4.3” (diagonal) 480 × 272 Widescreen display, 16:9 aspect ratio, just like widescreen DVDs and HDTV

· RAM: 32MB of RAM. 4MB of DRAM; half (2MB) is connected to the main core, and the other 2MB is for media processing functions.

  • Storage:The PSP has the following storage capabilities:
    • Sony Memory Stick Duo slot takes only Memory Stick Duo media

o UMD discs support up to 1.8GBeach and basically any type of data. Official formats include UMD-Game, UMD-Video, and UMD-Music. This appears to be based on Sony’s MiniDisc format.

o USB 2.0 port supports data transfers up to 480 megabits/second. Supports sharing of files on inserted Memory Stick with a USB-capable computer.

· Power: Includes 1800 mAh Lithium Ion (LIon) battery, provides 4–6 hours of battery life (Sony offers an official 220 mAh battery as well, and third parties such as Datel have batteries providing 3600 mAh).

    • A/C charger included with package yields 2000 mAh
    • Capable of charging using power provided via a computer’s USB 2.0 port
  • Networking: Built-in 802.11b (11 megabits/second max throughput) wireless supports both ad hoc (computer-to-computer) and infrastructure (device-to-access point) modes.
    • IrDA (Infrared Data Association) line-of-sight communications
    • IR Remote (SIRCS compliant), although no “official” remote control software was available at the time this book went to press
    • Potential to use USB port for other networking devices, should they ever beReleased

· Navigation system: Uses Sony’s XMB, or Cross Media Bar, interface, used in some Sony TVs and their PSX product. (I call this the “PSP Navigator” in this book.)

  • Region coding: Supports region coding of games, music, movies, and photos on UMD discs, similar to how DVDs do the same thing to prevent media use in other regions of the world
  • the world