Fresh out of the box, the PSP had a near-perfect design. With its screen big enough to make long-stretches of games and films easy on the eyes, and a control scheme almost replicating that of a Playstation controller, yet somehow it was all condensed into a modest sized handheld that could fit snugly in your pocket. And yet it still felt comfortable in the hand even after long periods of time, due to its ergonomic shape...unlike its competitor. The next few redesigns did not overhaul the system, they just touched up certain bits such as a longer battery life, a slightly more vivid screen, simpler UMD tray, etc. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
They did however bring out the PSP Go which was an excellent alternative for those that wanted an even smaller design, for smaller hands, closer to the size of your average mobile phone, but with a stylish sliding screen mechanism that made it even more convenient. And in spite of it being tiny, it still had a bigger screen than the DS AND the 3DS, with a higher resolution than either one. That's what I call future proofed. SUSPEND & RESUME
Though only available on the Go model, this feature merits a mention as it is utterly incredible. What this feature lets you do is pause your game at any point, then do whatever you like including web browse, watch videos or even play an entirely different game and, then still be able to return to that last game at the exact precise moment you left it at.
The xbox one has a similar feature but it isn't anywhere near as elegant or convenient as this. No other console lets you pause a game and play another. HOMEBREW
Anyone with a hacked PSP could reap numerous benefits. Free games were only the tip of the iceberg. How about user-created indie games like the unofficial Halo sequel, Halo Solitude and the Turok inspired game: Kurok or even the Quake engine based zombie game named Left 4 Quake? Some really ambitious projects blossomed from the PSP homebrew scene. MODS
You don't have to be part of the PC master race to get mods. The PSP master race got a bunch of its own. The PSP modding scene allowed us to turn our GTA protagonist into superman, it allowed us to import new characters into Dissidia Final Fantasy, including Kimahri Ronso who I always wanted to play as, and even allowed us to get rid of the censors in the previously banned Manhunt 2, making the modded PSP version, arguably the most violent game ever. TRANSLATION PROJECTS
Very often in the gaming industry, the west gets shafted by Japanese game devs and publishers, in spite of the overwhelming support for game localization. The PSP userbase was unique in this regard as we had many skilled people who got into the code for a number of these games and translated them for us people that don't speak the Japanese tongue. Some of these games that got unofficial translation were big titles like Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, Final Fantasy Type 0, the expanded version of Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep and Valkyria Chronicles 3. To non-PSP gamers, these games simply didn't exist. But to us, these are some of the best handheld games ever made. MULTIMEDIA
It breaks my heart that comics were removed from the store. But for a while the PSP did what you previously needed a much-more-expensive smartphone to do; it allowed the purchase and the reading of digital comics directly from your device, and gave you a beautiful cover-flow interface to sift through your collection. Underrated feature. But anyway, I'll stop lamenting and will praise the rest of the multimedia; including music listening, video-watching, web browsing, image viewing, photo-taking (providing you have the camera add-on), etc. Comics were just a really unexpected one but these are all a testament to how much option this handheld gave you. The PSP replaced my 256MB mp3 player for my bus trips to school back in the day. I could fit all my Green Day, Muse, Papa Roach, Nirvana, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden albums on it! And..ahem... dragonforce and system of a down... I know, I'm more ashamed of that than I am about the others. UMD FILMS
People complained about the UMD format, and sure it wasn't the best, but these offered around 2GB to game developers and were less likely to get scratched like regular cds/dvds due to the shell casing. However what was really cool was the option to buy from several hundred films on this physical media. I think every PSP owner at some point owned at least one umd movie. The beautiful part about it is that it wasn't forced upon you, you could still copy digital films onto your stick, but UMD films were a viable and affordable option. There's the issue that it's not a universal media, but at the same time if you were planning a long train journey, a portable version of your favourite film wasn't a bad idea, and you didn't have to delete games to make space. EMULATORS
Aside from the fact that PSP was backwards compatible with PS1 games, which is an astounding achievement, considering the competition was only backwards compatible with the Game Boy Advance, after being hacked, the PSP was a QUALITY console emulator, allowing the user to play just about any pre-6th generation PS1, NES, SNES, Megadrive, Genesis, GBC, GBA, Atari, DOS, etc... aside from the N64 games which usually had bad framerates, these games all ran perfectly! If you hate playing pokemon on your phones touchscreen and draining its battery... the PSP will save you here.THE ONLINE
The PSP was way ahead of the competition once again. That is not to say the online experience was perfect, there were no way to add friends and there was no dedicated identity/profile system which was a bummer. But the multiplayer was extremely stable, to the point that you could enjoy full matches with another 30 players on Medal of Honor, with grenades blowing up and bullets spraying everywhere, and not encounter any significant lag! Or you would be on Star Wars Battlefront Elite Squadron, be shooting several storm troopers, then get into a ship and fly into space, and get in dogfights in the middle of the match without any load screens, without any drop-out. Or be playing GTA ad hoc with some friends, and be free roaming around the entirety of Liberty City, sniping from one island to the next, without any stutter or interference. Or be playing co-op with 3 others on Metal Gear Solid or Monster Hunter. (why don't we have both?) You might encounter some lag on occasion like with any console, but the fact that a handheld was able to accommodate such a next-generation multiplayer experience like this is mind blowing. THE GAMES
This is a no brainer. And I WILL NOT begin listing all the amazing games on PSP, because you'll be here all week. The PSP has the better part of 1000 games, not including all the backwards compatible games nor the ones you can play on the emulators I told you about, which just increases the number a hundred fold.
To put it simply, if you think of the biggest and best franchises on Sony consoles, the PSP had either an exclusive or a quality port from just about every one of those franchises, and had exclusives from new IP's as well. And just generally had so much incredible variation and performed like a home console when developers wanted it to. It also was the platform where long dead franchises returned (Parasite Eve), where much loved franchises finished (Syphon Filter) and where other loved franchises continued (Valkyria Chronicles). It also had some of the best games of certain franchises (Kingdom hearts Birth By Sleep, Final Fantasy Crisis Core, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories, etc). What more can I say?