PSP sat-nav package offers lots more than GPS

Not long after looking down and out for the count in its battle for handheld supremacy, Sony's PlayStation Portable continues to get better by gaining useful hardware and software. Last month we saw a GPS golf caddy for the PSP - this time it's a high-spec update to a GPS navigator application for the device.

For ¥5,040 (£21), Japanese residents get to choose one of three editions on UMD media that cover the entire country down to street level. The map data and a sat-nav application from Zenrin combine with the existing PSP GPS dongle that is sold separately for a similar price.

Collaborative mapping

Everybody's Map 2, as the package is quaintly called, allows note-taking and wireless map-sharing through a service called PetaMap . The latter is a collaborative tool that lets users share points of interest through a central server and apply them to their own personalised maps if they wish. Users can also create guides to, for example, the best cafes in Tokyo, or download existing ones on particular themes.

PetaMap also pulls in information on the fly about the immediate surroundings, such as where to score a quick massage (very useful around Shinjuku) or what shops are offering discounts right now.

On top of the usual navigation (both driving and walking) guidelines, the databases also contain comprehensive information on car rental, parks, local beers, local brands of sake, local wines, pilgrimage routes, bookstores, cinemas, department stores, supermarkets and accommodation.

Sat-nav without the sat

An intriguing addition to the GPS mix is Sony's new PlaceEngine function that uses available Wi-Fi hotspots to work out a location even without GPS. It relies on previous users having told the system where they are and matching the existing Wi-Fi signatures to what the PSP currently sees.

Although PlaceEngine is dependent on people contributing and effectively creating a Wi-Fi map, the potential for navigating anywhere there is a Wi-Fi signal - even underground - makes it a technology worth watching.

Best of all, with Japan's rainy season around the corner, we are also quite drawn to an aspect of the route planner for pedestrians that will show the easiest way to get from A to B without getting soaked when it's raining.

J Mark Lytle was an International Editor for TechRadar, based out of Tokyo, who now works as a Script Editor, Consultant at NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Writer, multi-platform journalist, all-round editorial and PR consultant with many years' experience as a professional writer, their bylines include CNN, Snap Media and IDG.