Sony has locked in 17 November as the Australian launch date for the PlayStation 3, just in time for Christmas. The system will come in two bundles -- a PS3 with a 20GB hard drive (confirmed RRP of AU$829) and one with a 60GB HDD (confirmed RRP of AU$999).
As a comparison, the Xbox 360's core bundle retails for AU$499, while its upgrade bundle which includes a 20GB hard drive retails for AU$649.
The Australian launch date will come one week after the US and Japan release for Sony's next generation games console. European territories will also receive the PS3 on 17 November. The almost simultaneous worldwide launch date is a stark contrast to Microsoft's Xbox 360, which was released in Australia a number of months after its US release. However, we wouldn't bet money on Sony hitting that date, as global launches are a logistical nightmare, and as with Xbox 360, supply issues could cause delays.
According to Sony's latest specs list for PS3, there are several key differences between the 20GB PS3 and the 60GB PS3 apart from hard drive capacity. While the 20GB PS3 has all of the basic power and functionality of its more expensive sibling (including a Blu-ray drive), the 60GB bundle comes with card slots (Memory Stick, SD, Compact Flash), HDMI support and built-in 802.11b/g wireless.
Sony revealed the PS3's pricing and release dates at a pre-E3 press conference held in Los Angeles this afternoon. Also revealed was the final form factor for the PS3's controller, which looks exactly the same as current PlayStation control pads. The PS3 controllers, however, feature built-in Bluetooth for wireless gaming, with the R2 and L2 buttons enlarged. There is also a large button beneath the Start and Select buttons, although its exact use was not disclosed.
Sony has also taken a leaf out of Nintendo's book with its PS3 controller, equipping it with built-in motion sensitivity that can be used to control games. The PS3 controller features a six-axis sensing system that can detect pitch, roll and yaw, as well as three-dimension acceleration in the X, Y and Z axis. In a demonstration at its pre-E3 conference, Sony showcased the upcoming game Warhawk, which allowed you to maneuevre its flying vehicles by tilting the PS3 controller.
CNET.com.au will be at E3 all week covering the latest Playstation 3 developments, so be sure to keep checking our special E3 page for updates!