The Sony PSP was no stranger to odd console variants. There were special edition systems, such as the much sought after Hannah Montana PSP, which radiates a sparkly purple glow when hit with direct light. There was the PSP Go, a PSP with slide-out controls that could only play games digitally instead of via the PSP’s funky UMD discs. There was even the Sony Xperia play – a system that admittedly is not a PSP, but rather just a smartphone with PSP-style controls attached to it.
The PSP was also no stranger to odd regional changes. For example, when the third major PSP hardware revision was released in 2008, it was called the PSP-3000 in most regions. However, in Europe, it was marketed as the PSP Slim & Light or the PSP Brite depending on the region. Regional changes aren’t really just a PSP thing, though. Hardware, software and even events, all revolve around regional variances. As a fan of esports, for example, checking esportsguide.com allows me to be up-to-date with my favorite pro gaming series. Sadly, none of them feature the PSP. Anyway, there was a variant of the PSP that is both weird hardware-wise and that was a result of regional ridiculousness! This is the PSP Street.
Also known as the PSP-E1000 (the “E” likely standing for “Economy”), this system was released exclusively in Europe in October 2011. That means it was a late-life remodel, as it was released to the general gaming public not even two months before the PlayStation Vita. A bit of an odd gamble on Sony’s part, but perhaps they just needed to use up the last of their PSP parts.
In many ways, this budget PSP revision reminds me a lot of the Wii Mini. As-in, it attempted to be as cost-effective as possible by seemingly removing as many features as possible. They also both had some odd regional exclusivity quirks, with the Wii Mini initially only being available in Canada.
Unlike with the Wii Mini, though, Sony seemed to have some sort of marketing plan for the PSP Street. Not much info exists on this thing, but it was apparently mostly sold in supermarkets, not traditional game stores. It was also competitively priced – at launch in the UK, it could be found for only £85, or roughly around $120 USD. Indeed, the whole scheme seems like an attempt at making the E1000 either a cheap Christmas gift or even an impulse buy for casual gamers on the go!
The E1000 feels cheap in the hand. The screen is nice enough, sure, but after actually getting to toy around with one, it feels almost like some sort of bootleg console in comparison to the heftier PSP-3000. At least the deep black-coloured shell of the launch model isn’t ugly – perhaps just a bit generic.
Really, the only “improvement” (if you’d want to call it that), is the replace meant of the start, select, home and volume buttons with a touch bar. It’s a bit hard to pinpoint how they feel – it’s less like using a MacBook touch bar and more like turning on an Xbox 360. I never felt completely satisfied any time I used it.
The rest of the buttons feel fine, though. They’re laid out the same as on any other PSP, and the little thumb nub feels just as reasonably decent as ever. The one exception to this is the power button, which for some reason is on the bottom of the system, as compared to on the right side on the PSP-3000.
In almost every other regard the E1000 is stripped back from the models that came before. The system still uses Sony Memory Sticks as memory cards, but instead of a covered slot on the side (like on previous models), there’s just an uncovered gaping slot on the top of it. I have no idea why they didn’t include a cover for the slot, and I feel like it’s a slot I’d need to keep always-filled or else it’d get dust inside.
This isn’t the only missing feature here. Gone is stereo sound (unless through the headphone jack), and instead, all we’re given is a simple monaural speaker. Gone as well is the microphone and physical brightness buttons – the screen’s brightness must be adjusted from within the system settings. Indeed, also gone is the ability to output video to a TV. You can’t even remove the system battery – a standard feature of the PSP from the 1000 to the 3000.
Most baffling of all is the lack of any and all wireless capabilities. There’s no wireless switch. No WiFi. No ability to go online through an adapter or something. No way to access the PlayStation Network Store. While the UMD drive is back after missing from the PSP Go, there is no way to add digital games to the PSP Street without external hardware.
Funnily enough, the Wii Mini – which released a year later – was also offline-only. This issue doesn’t bother me nearly as much with the E1000 though. The Wii Mini had the squandered potential of being a cheap Netflix box, while the PSP Street always seemed to be nothing more than a cheap handheld gaming machine. Still, it’s still oddly funny how Sony went from releasing a digital-only PSP in 2009 to a digital-incapable one in 2011.
At the end of the day, a PSP is still a PSP. The game library is fantastic – whether you’re playing exclusive titles like Mega Man: Powered Up or LocoRoco or even PS1 classics – and games play more than fine on the PSP Street. And indeed, that variety of games is huge – from RPGs to gambling games to platformers and more! But, with PSPs being cheap and plentiful on the secondhand market, there’s no reason to track down an E1000. The PSP-3000 is more feature-filled and feels better built and, for folks outside of Europe like myself, it’s just easier to come across.
The E1000 may be stripped down and European-exclusive, but it still managed to fill a budget niché. It came in a variety of colours and had several bundles, though was never a big enough seller to see release in North America or Japan. But, it was the final model of the PSP. When the PSP Street was formally discontinued in 2014, it perhaps marked the end of a handheld gaming era.