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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 April, 2005, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
PSP embraced by DIY technicians
More than two million PSPs have gone on sale
DIY software and hardware experts have been quick to embrace Sony's PlayStation Portable console.

A glut of "homebrew" features for the device have already been released, many of which were not part of Sony's official plans for the machine.

The PSP is a handheld console, which has wireless capabilities, and can play music as well as video games.

Tools for web browsing and online chat are among the first to appear since the console launched in the US and Japan.

The developments are not sanctioned by Sony but the firm has not commented on the homebrew tools.

Messaging platform

The $249 (130) PSP handheld video game player went on sale in the United States on 24 March and within 24 hours one man had a working client for Internet Relay Chat (IRC), an older online messaging platform.

"I was on IRC, and someone mentioned how cool it would be to use their PSP on wi-fi at Starbucks to talk to people over IRC. I said, 'I can do that', so I began working on it immediately," said Robert Balousek, creator of PSPIRC in an e-mail interview with news agency Reuters.

European gamers have to wait to play PSP

Mr Balousek said about 100,000 people had visited the IRC client, and he is starting work on a new project that would let PSP users chat on the AOL Instant Messenger network.

Hacking new video game hardware is not new but the speed at which people have started to produce their own applications for the PSP is impressive.

Other "hacks" include a way to transfer TV shows recorded by the Tivo digital video recorder to the PSP, a program for reading e-books and a viewer for comics downloaded from the internet.

Racing game

While many of the tools are probably in development by Sony in an official sense, some PSP owners just could not wait to get started.

Much of the new PSP functionality comes from using the web browser built into the racing game Wipeout Pure, which was meant to go to a Sony site.

By changing some of the PSP's network settings, the browser can be pointed to an internet portal.

A number of people have already set up such portals, formatted to fit in the PSP's screen and offering links and a place to enter web addresses.

Other "hacks" include getting the PSP to play all games wirelessly over the internet and playing multiplayer games with only one copy of the game.

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