PSix Shell - An In-Depth Look

A few days ago we announced the release of a really promising PSP shell that was eagerly awaited by hundreds of PSP users, the PSix. However, even though it’s already been released, there is still a great plenitude of features missing that should arrive in upcoming versions. Here is a list with screenshot of what is working, what isn’t and what is to come in the future.

This article mentions the features that are implemented and working on the Pro version of the shell so one or two things I mention here might not be usable yet in the “Lite” (free) version.

Interface

Surely, one of the things that attracted people the most to this shell was it’s clean design and futuristic design.

The screenshot above, and the further ones are all taken from the flash demo page and two of the buttons in the interface don’t appear yet on the current version, and those are the the two buttons on the left and right of the USB button on the bottom right from the screen. Apart from that, the shell looks exactly the same.

Desktop

The desktop screen (pictured above) is what you will see as soon as you start your PSP. What can you do on it currently?

Well, if you look at the icons on the desktop you’ll see the names of your installed homebrew applications (if you have installed the shell and notice that there are repeating icons it’s because you are using the hide corrupted icon’s hack, if you name the folders XXXX and XXXX% correctly this will not happen).

You can press any of those icons using the X button on your console and it will automatically load your homebrew program. When you hit home or exit the homebrew application you will usually return to the shell. But of course, this feature might not work sometimes with some homebrew applications, but after testing it I’m pleased to say I haven’t had that problem many times and my favorite applications all return to the shell.

Currently the PSP icon doesn’t do anything but it will be used to configure your PSP in the future, the UMD icon is currently not showing either but you already can boot UMDs from the shell, more on that later.

On the top left corner of the screen and across the horizontal bar you will see various things related to the PSP state: A battery Icon (which animates when it’s plugged in to the adaptor), the version of the shell and last but not least the time and date.

On the bottom right is where most of the options are. You have the USB button which allows you to turn USB mode on or off without interfering with the shell. Currently, on the PSP’s native shell, if you turn on USB mode you can’t do anything else on it, thankfully the same doesn’t happen in PSix. You also have a long horizontal button which changes the desktop (yes, PSix has multiple desktops which is very useful if you have a lot of homebrew applications installed). And last, but certainly not least, the “R” button which gives you access to the options that you see above it on gray tabs (there is also a corresponding “L” button which gives access to the tabs on the top left corner).

USB Button

There isn’t much to say here, it turns on and off USB mode for the PSP seamlessly. If you boot the shell with a USB cable plugged in it will automatically go in USB mode.

If you don’t know what USB mode is, USB mode is basically a “flashdisk” mode for the PSP that makes it appear as another drive on your computer as a normal flashdisk would.

Multiple Desktops Button

Clicking on this button allows you to change the desktop you are seeing. This in only useful if your homebrew applications fill up the whole desktop and there are a few you can’t see. By pressing it the button advances to the next desktop. To return to the first one you must click it three other times in order to return to the original one. When you press the button the desktop that you are seeing becomes highlighted on it in blue so you’ll know in which one you are and how many clicks you need to return to the original one.

The R and L Buttons

On the bottom left and right of the shell you will notice the “” buttons. These work in a similar to the “Multiple Desktops Button” mentioned above with only one small difference, you can use your PSP’s “L” and “R” buttons to move through the options instead of moving the cursor over and clicking on it. Most of the time these are the buttons you’ll use on your PSP but the users and developers of the shell are already thinking of better ways to use these menus instead of always having to scroll through them.

Now onto the menus themselves and I’ll start with the “R” menus which are mostly working.

Audio Menu

Except for the help button on the bottom right, this is exactly what the audio menu looks like. What can you currently do on it? Well, you can add files to the playlist by highlighting them and pressing the arrow button between file list and playlist. You can also create new playlists and remove entries from them by using the vertical “New” and “Del” buttons on the right. For this menu it is better to use your PSP’s D-Pad and the X button instead of the cursor because it will make adding and removing files much harder. Just navigated left and right through the menus pressing right and left and X on what you want to select.

As for the options on the right the three last ones aren’t currently working. The first three options are pretty self-explanatory “Shuffle”, “Repeat Selected Track” and “Repeat All”. The last one creates a nice display on the bottom toolbar with buttons to control the tracks as the following picture shows:

The equalizer isn’t yet working, nor is the black bar in the bottom, which supposedly will show the track’s progress. However, all the buttons in the middle are that give you the usual “Play”, “Pause” and etc options from music players.

The track information bubble is also working and displays automatically, however, as you may notice, since it has transparency and there will be one or more icons behind it it makes reading the text a bit difficult.

PS: There have been reports of some users not being able to open big MP3 files. The beta testers and developers recommend you don’t use files bigger than 10mbs and you should be fine.

Video Menu

The Video Menu is implemented in the design, however it currently doesn’t do anything yet. However, you can already tell from the aspect that the file management will be very similar to the Audio Menu.

Image Menu

This menu is one of my favorites. It’s easy to use, if you’ve already gotten used to the Audio menu this one is even easier to use, and it has a neat feature which I enjoyed that is the “PSix Interface” button.

When you open this menu, the photos that appear are those that are in your X:\PSP\PHOTO folder. But be warned that this menu still has some limitations. It can’t open images that are bigger than 512×512, however they hope to fix that in the future (this is a problem that all PSP shells seem to have). To select a photo you can either highlight it with the cursor or D-Pad or you can use the “>” on the right. The arrow button between “>” allows you to view the image in “full” size. While in “full” size mode, you can use your D-Pad to move between the images in the folder.

The “Set as Bg” button is self-explanatory, however, the shell currently doesn’t record which settings you used in the past, however there is a workaround to setting a default wallpaper which is by renaming the image you want “background” and putting it in the psix folder.

The PSix Interface overlays the image in the preview box with the interface to give you an idea of what it will look like when you set it.

The “remove bg” and “help” buttons aren’t working yet.

File, MOD and NET

From those three, the File is the only one that has a layout already done:

The rest have neither interface done. All we know so far is that “MOD” will be for “Modules” or “Extensions” if you preffer to call them and “WEB” will be for some WEB functions, it is not clear yet if the PSix will have a standalone browser or not.

UMD

The only thing that is missing from this menu is the written information. You can launch a UMD by pressing the launch button. And when you exit a UMD it will return to the PSix shell, the same as the homebrew applications.

In Short

What do you get by downloading PSix right now? Well, you get a nicer interface with easier access to your homebrew applications. A better music player than the PSP’s and a more accurate display of the battery status. You can also view smaller images but I doubt that that alone will convince people to use it.

What do you get by paying the $10? You get access to the developer’s forum and can discuss bugs and future features with them. You also get access to the latest builds and test out the PSix’s features before anyone else.

And now for the daring question: Is it worth it? For me, the music player alone is enough to convince me to use it. The eboot/umd loading, another plus. And the upcoming features will make it worth much more than 10$. So the answer is, in my opinion, a definite yes.

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