That right there is the next iteration of the Sony PSP -- named
the Sony NGP, which stands for 'next generation portable'. That's right, things just got official.
It's a fairly drastic overhaul of the PSP design, adding a second analogue stick, and a mammoth 5-inch OLED touchscreen that boasts a whopping 960x544-pixel resolution, to keep your games looking sharp.
The NGP also has a touch-sensitive trackpad on its rear -- it's about the same size as the screen on the front, and you can use it to control in-game action by tracing your fingers along it. At a press conference in Japan where the new handheld was announced, a demo of the NGP playing Uncharted was also shown, where the touch-sensitive area on the back was used to execute more complicated in-game manoeuvres. Nifty.
We can't wait to find out exactly how that trackpad feels to use -- it could add an extra dimension to gaming control, but not being able to see where your fingers actually are (the trackpad is stuck on the back of the NGP remember), could prove bothersome.
There are front and rear-facing cameras, which allows for some augmented reality-gaming kicks, and packs, as was leaked ahead of time. The new UI for the console will be called LiveArea, and will let you swoop gracefully between homescreens, and comment on your buddies' gaming achievements.
Sony has ditched the UMD format for the NGP, but it still uses physical media, in the form of SD card-style storage. We have a sneaking suspicion that format will be proprietary, though Sony has been more open recently to using non Sony-built storage options in its tech.
And speaking of being more open, Sony has also surprised us by announcing the PlayStation Suite, a games store forthat will play host to a load of classic PSP and PSOne games. It'll be available on Android devices packing version 2.3 Gingerbread or higher, and could significantly boost Android's stakes in the mobile gaming world. Nice one, Sony.
A version of the PlayStation Suite will also be available on the NGP, and it's sure to be a major selling point of the still-unofficial-but-leaked-to-hell, aka the PlayStation Phone.
The bad news? The NGP won't be out until Christmas. That's nearly a whole year away, and gives the NGP's rival, the Nintendo 3DS, plenty of time to gather momentum. Exciting times for mobile gaming, folks -- stay tuned for more info.