The Sony PSP, the Swiss Army Knife of mobile entertainment devices, received yet another feature in a recent firmware update with the addition of Skype VoIP support. The Skype software allows the PSP to make calls over the Internet. Skype users can call other PSP or PC Skype users as well as cell phones and regular phone lines. Skype-to-Skype calls are free, but calling out to a real phone will cost real money starting from 2.1 cents a minute depending on location. A Skype-enabled PSP can also accept calls, but you’ll need to deposit money into your Skype account to cover for incoming calls coming from a cell phone or landline.
Sony PSP Skype Essentials
The Skype update only works with the Sony PSP-2000 series released in October 2007. According to Sony, the original PSP doesn’t have enough onboard memory to support Skype. Note that the last digit of the PSP model number may differ depending on the geographical region but all 2000 series PSPs should work with Skype.
Memory Stick Duo
You already need the memory stick for game saves, system updates, and multimedia playback. Add Skype to the memory-stick-required list.
The system requires the PSP headset and PSP headphone with remote accessory to function with Skype. The actual headphone portion isn’t used--you plug the headset into the remote portion of the headphone kit. We tried using only the headset without the headphone accessory, but people we called told us that the sound was practically inaudible from our side. The tethered remote unit comes bundled with a pair of headphones at the moment, but future retail packs will have them bundled with a headset and microphone.
Wireless Internet access
You’ll need an Internet-enabled Wi-Fi connection to get your PSP online to make those Skype calls.
PSP Skype Installation
The first step in the process involves configuring the Internet connection, which you should have already done if you've ever taken the PSP online to play games or browse the web. If you’re making a call from a public Wi-Fi hotspot, you might have to fire up the PSP Internet browser to accept the hotspot’s terms of service before getting online.
You’ll need to update your PSP’s firmware to enable Skype functionality if you bought your PSP-2000 close to launch. You can find the update on Sony’s PSP support page and full instructions on how to properly update the device. After installing the system update, you’ll find a new Skype selection under the Network in the XMB menu, nestled between the LocationFree Player and Remote Play.
The Skype program will give you the option of using an existing Skype account, or creating a new account directly from the PSP. Making a Skype account couldn’t be easier. Enter your email address and the desired login and password, and you’re on your way. Once the account is created, you can use either your PSP or a PC to hop over to the Skype site to purchase Skype credits using either PayPal or a credit card. You need Skype credits if you want to call cell phones or regular land lines using your Skype account.
The Skype menu has five main sections: My Profile, Contacts, History, Dial, and Tools. The Profile section lets you adjust personal information. From here, you can change your status, icon, and mood message. Other profile settings let you set your location, email address, and contact numbers.
The Contacts page, as the name suggests, displays your contact list. From here you can choose contacts to call, but you'll be limited to audio chats only. You won't have the ability to launch video chats—Skype didn’t recognize the PSP camera attachment we imported from Japan. Voice quality will vary with your internet connection, but even with spotty service the connection is more than usable. Our PC friends did have to update their Skype program to the latest version to stop numerous error screens from popping up during our calls.
The History icon keeps track of all incoming and outgoing calls and records how long you were in the chat for. It's also a quick way to go back and redial recent calls.
The Dial feature lets you call outside phone numbers with the PSP. You will of course have to pay real money for this feature to work. We made a few calls using the service and it functioned as advertised, and voice clarity on both ends was more than passable. We did notice some lag, but nothing severe enough to disrupt the conversation.
The Tools menu lets you jump to the Skype page to purchase more air time, change default sounds, troubleshoot network related port settings, manage blocked users, and tweak a few other minor settings.
Overall, we found Skype on the PSP to be easy to use and great for voice chats. We don't miss the text chat interface, as the PSP's text input mechanism doesn’t make for fast messaging. We’re not really sure how often you’ll actually use Skype on the PSP, but you’ll be glad to have it if you ever find yourself without a landline and a cell phone, but happen to be near an open Wi-Fi connection.
Have you tried Skype on your PSP? Share your experiences in the comments below!