Sony released the original PSP back in 2005. It was promoted as a portable PS2 but although it was impressively powerful for the time, as was standard practice back then, Sony was talking bollocks and in reality its power lay somewhere between that and a PS1.
Its games came on a Universal Media Disc or UMD. This was a 1.8GB disc encased in a plastic housing that was designed to protect the media from scratches.
UMDs were chosen over cartridges because of their capacity and, more importantly, their cost-per-GB. To compare, cartridges for Nintendo’s DS ranged between 8 and 512MB in capacity – with most games using either 64MB or 128MB.
In truth though, the format sucked. The PSP’s drives were painfully slow, clunky and overly fragile for a console that was meant to be portable. And thanks to the mechanical aspect of the drive, it also impacted on the battery performance of the console.
Sony released two more iterations of this design which improved the performance and specification of the console, but they were all hamstrung by the UMD drive.
In 2009, Sony released the PSP Go. This model removed the UMD drive and the idea was that users would get their games from the online store instead. The removal of the drive meant that the console could be much smaller and lighter than all the other iterations, with better battery life.
Where Sony gave with one hand though, it took away with the other. The memory format was changed from the Pro Duo of the earlier models to another proprietary format called M2, which was much smaller – about the same size as Micro SD. This decision would be significant for the model’s future.