Sony stinks at making media software. Sorry, but it's true. The feature set always sounds right on, but the interface and functionality is a nightmare. So there is a lot riding on the release of this new PSP Media Manager application. The goal is to let PC users easily move content such as music, photos, and videos, via USB to their PSPs. The Manager works with all sorts of video formats — MP4, AVI, MPG, MOV, WMV, plus Sony H.264 video encoding — and you can select different quality settings (bit rates) for transferred media. It also "supports" MP3, WAV, and WMA files.
The catch here is that all these file formats will be automatically converted to ones that'll work on the PSP, which probably means all your MP3s will be automagically turned into ATRAC3. I thought Sony had finally overcome its MP3 aversion with the latest set of Walkmen. Or was that just summer loving, had me a blast?
Update: Dennis from Sony Media Software wrote to call foul on my accusations here. He says: "I'm here to tell you that PSP Media Manager rips CDs to MP3, and MP3 transfers as MP3 to the PSP. As a matter of fact, we neither read nor write ATRAC3 in PSP Media Manager." Seems the press release on this was less than clear. I'll have to take Media Manager for a test-drive— write in if you already have.
Another nifty feature of the new software is RSS feed subscriptions that include podcasts and video blogs. There's also a one-click backup option for game saves and other files. The download-only version is $19.95 while the boxed version is $29.95. The box includes a 6-foot USB 2.0 cable, sample media (read: Sony marketing dreck), and 5 free song downloads from Sony's Connect store. The boxed version will be available on December 1st, while the download-only one is available now.