Sony kicked off the 2006 E3 show with a bang on Monday by providing pricing and configuration details on the PlayStation 3. The system will be available in $499 and $599 versions in North America on November 17. The main differences between the two versions as highlighted by Sony will be the size of the internal hard drive: 20GB on the less expensive PS3 vs. 60GB on the step-up model.
However, a PDF spec sheet on the company's Japanese site (linked on digg.com) and product images shown on GameSpot.com indicates that the $499 model will be missing quite a few features found on the more expensive "deluxe" PS3: no HDMI port, no built-in Wi-Fi, and no built-in flash memory reader (SD, Memory Stick, and CompactFlash). Presumably, the $599 model would be targeted at tech-savvy gamers with cutting-edge HDTVs that could run the PlayStation 3 at its maximum 1080p high-definition output. To drive home the PS3's bleeding-edge HD graphics, Sony's event included an impressive demonstration of the next-gen version of Gran Turismo running at 1080p.
In addition to the United States and Canada, the dual PS3 bundles will be available in Europe and Australia the same day at roughly equivalent prices. Japan will be the first to get the console about a week earlier, on November 11. The dual SKU offering and global rollout is reminiscent of Microsoft's 2005 launch for the PS3's main rival, the Xbox 360. Sony addressed the shortages that have plagued Microsoft's console by pledging to ship 4 million PS3s by the end of the year--but the company didn't specify how the inventory would be earmarked across the various territories.
Photo credit: GameSpot