Sony unveils 'Next Generation Portable,' the new PSP

In Tokyo, Sony rolls out the first complete revamp of its PlayStation Portable. With a 5-inch OLED screen, dual analog sticks, 3G, Wi-Fi, and more, it's an exciting reboot for the PSP line.

The new Next Generation Portable, from Sony. Known by many as the PlayStation Portable 2, the new device was announced at a live event in Tokyo on Thursday. Sony Computer Entertainment

At a live event in Tokyo, Sony on Thursday unveiled what many had come to call the PlayStation Portable 2, its long-awaited, all-new handheld video game console. Known officially as the "Next Generation Portable," the device will be available this holiday season. Sony has not yet said what the new PSP will cost.

According to CNET sister site Gamespot.com, the new device will come in a brick form factor and will feature a 5-inch OLED display with four times the resolution of current-generation PSPs. It has touch pads on both the front and the rear and dual micro analog joysticks. It also has both front- and rear-facing cameras and will use a Flash-based memory card. It will also offer 3G, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity, according to GameSpot. Onstage in Tokyo, Sony's Shuhei Yoshida said the new device boasts PlayStation 3-quality graphics.

Sony said that the device has an ARM Cortex A9 (core) CPU, and a SGX543MP4+ GPU. It also has a Sixaxis motion-sensing system.

Games that will be offered for the Next Generation Portable (NGP) include Hot Shots Golf Next, Gravity Daze, Killzone, WipeOut, Resistance, LittleBigPlanet, Uncharted, Little Deviants, Reality Fighters, and Billiards, GameSpot reported.

Before unveiling the new PSP, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai also unveiled a new platform called PlayStation Suite that will ensure that first-generation PlayStation games will run on a wide variety of Android-enabled handsets and tablets. That could mean that a huge library of games will be available for the first time to Android users. Hirai also said that the Next Generation Portable is backward compatible, and will run downloadable PSP titles. And Toshihiro Nagoshi from Sega later said that it would be possible to port PlayStation 3 games to the NGP, according to Gamespot.

A view of the front of the NGP, showing its dual sticks, and its front-facing camera. Sony Computer Entertainment

Nintendo's DS has dominated
Although Sony's PSP line, which first launched in 2004, has sold an impressive 65.7 million units worldwide, according to independent analyst outfit VGChartz.com, it has been overshadowed for years by the much more successful Nintendo DS line of handhelds. All told, according to VGChartz, Nintendo has sold 145.3 million of its portable devices--the DS, the DSi, and the DS Lite.

The slim PSP, which was released in 2007. CNET

Sony has also tried to reinvigorate the PSP before, first with a slimmer version of the original device it put out in 2007, and then with a significant redesign that never really caught on known as the PSP Go . But neither of those devices was able to help Sony close the handheld sales gap with Nintendo.

And now, of course, the new Next Generation Portable will be going head-to-head with the very-well-received new Nintendo 3DS . That well-reviewed device, which offers users 3D capabilities without special glasses, will go on sale March 27, and cost $249. It will launch with six first-party titles, including Legend of Zelda and Nintendogs + Cats, and ten third-party games, including Electronic Arts' The Sims and Madden Football; Super Street Fighter IV 3D from Capcom; Dead or Alive: Dimensions from Tecmo, and others.

Still, the Next Generation Portable has a lot of people excited because of its rich collection of features.

The PSP Go, which Sony launched in 2009. Sony

But while Sony got plenty of attention for the new NGP, it did not unveil at the Tokyo event a PlayStation phone, as many had expected. It appears, according to published reports , that such a phone, which could be based on Google's Android platform, and be known as the Xperia, will not be revealed in public until next month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Additional coverage:
The Sony NGP/PSP2: what we still don't know
PSP2 gameplay video: Uncharted
Sony bringing PlayStation games to Android

 

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