Features of CFW
CFW is amazing compared to the alternative, OFW. Now if your an unfortunate owner of a PSP-3000(or 2000 with unhackable mobo) with 5.50 (or higher)/ a PSP Go, well...you're screwed for the time being. But rest assured, there are folks, kind, good folks, working on a firmware that'll work for you.
UPDATE: Recently, there has been a resurgence of HEN's running on firmwares ranging from 5.50 to 6.35, and for basic home brew, there is a signing tool that allows home brew to be run on any firmware, on any PSP. It will not work on NGP's when they come out.
Now to the Features.
ISO/CSO/PSX Probably the most advertised, wanted and used feature in CFW, is this ability: playing ISO/CSO/PSX Playability: **cough cough** backed up ISOs/CSOs and (Hmm where did you get these from?) PSX Eboots on the PSP. This ability, per say, allows you to take your UMD, dump it to your Mem Stick, or computer, and play it on your PSP without the UMD. And it allows you to play (However you got them) PlayStation 1 games. And just so you know, a CSO is a compressed ISO, to save space, at the cost of speed. The speed loss is not notable in most games, except, the GTA series, and others.
: You buy the game
How? (or whatever other method you may use) , dump the UMD ISO wherever, copy it to your ISO folder on your Mem Stick, switch your "UMD ISO Mode" to "SONY NP9660" or "M33 Driver" , and viola, you can play that game without the UMD, or the ISO residing on the Download section of your HDD. (settings found in VSH Menu */Recovery Menu *)
Note: To dump a UMD, insert your UMD into your UMD Drive, and for "USB Device" in the VSH Menu *, select "UMD Disc". That will enable you to connect your PSP to your computer via USB, and copy it right to your desktop. Keep in mind, it is illegal to redistribute that ISO, even though I know you don't care.
Note Number 2: A PSX Eboot can be placed in the GAME Folder.
* The VSH Menu/Recovery Menu is described in later features, AKA below.
The drawbacks are pretty few and far apart; in all the the CFW's there have been, the bugs have been taken care of pretty well. I have never really encountered many bugs, if any at all. But there are limitations. For example, your memory stick is only so big, so it limits the amount of games you can store. Another thing to keep in mind is that Sony doesn't want you playing backed up games, so every new game that comes out as of right now, tomorrow and yesterday, has anti-CFW non-playability, pro-OFW playability code in the game, so some new games may not be playable on the latest firmware. Stay updated to play the latest games. Drawback and Limitations:
Homebrew : Tied with ISO/CSO/PSX, this is the feature that made the PSP Homegrown Community. For a comprehensive list, check out the Homebrew QJ Download Section. For good reviews on the latest homebrew, and a equally comprehensive list, check out PSP Hacks. Many thanks to Greg for that site's comprehensiveness. Kudos to you. For my own collection, check out my guide. Not the greatest, but its a start. Larry's Homebrew List. I try to keep it updated but I forget about it, a lot. I will try to spend some time updating it later.
Once you have downloaded your homebrew, open up the zip/rar/whatever and extract the contents. If the initial folder is PSP, you can copy that folder directly to your device. If it is GAME, you can copy it directly to the PSP folder on you Mem Stick. If it is the name of the app, copy it to the PSP>GAME> folder. The execute it from the XMB>Game>Memory Stick>. How?:
There are very few limitations, as far as they go. The only limits are that the they are developed by people, not companies, so for the most part, mainstream support is non-existent. Email is as far as most go, and some devs don't go that far. Drawback and Limitations:
VSH/Recovery Menu This is another good feature, for advance users (for the most part), that allows you to customize your PSP in many ways, more that you would thing. The VSH Menu will allow you customize CPU Speeds, USB Devices, ISO Mode and a few others to your choice. If you don't know what you a doing with the USB Devices, leave flash 0, 1, 2, and 3 alone. That is your PSP firmware, modifying it could result in a brick. Leave CPU speeds at default, again, if you don't know what you are doing. It is safe to raise the GAME Speed to 333, for better performance in games like GTA. The Recovery Menu can be accessed by turning the PSP off fully VSH Menu/Recovery Menu: (hold power button for 3-5 seconds) and holding the R trigger as you turn it back on. This allows to modify the core of your firmware's setting. Again, if you don't know what you are doing, don't change it.
The VSH Menu is self explanatory, but the Recovery Menu has a good purpose. If you mess up your firmware, you can boot into Recovery Menu and recovery your PSP but installing HellCat's Recovery Flasher into the How?: PSP>GAME>RECOVER> location. Clicking "Run program at PSP>GAME>RECOVER>" will execute HellCat's and, well recovery your PSP. I recommended that once you install Hell Cats, make a NAND dump for a ins-ta recovery if you PSP crashes.
None really, as they are both very useful. Use them carefully and you will encounter not limits or drawbacks. Drawback and Limitations:
Plugins Plugins are extensions of the firmware that give you more features. They give you additional features to Sony's built in ones. Like a when you turn hold on, it clocks the CPU to 60, and turns the display off, perfect for listening to music.
First, download the plugins, and play the .prx into the "seplugins" folder, in your PSP root. Then, create a vsh.txt and a game.txt. The VSH is for XMB, and the GAME is for in-game plugins. If you want a plugin to be active in the XMB, you must do a la this format: How?:
The x is the name of the plugin, the same way it as written as the file on your memory stick. The one following it is when ether the plugin is "on" or "off". 1 is on, 0 is off. If you want a plug in to be active in-game, do the same for the game.txt folder.
A limited as the PSP's firmware itself. Drawback and Limitations: