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PSP future features unveiled

Sony has announced a range of new accessories and abilities for the PSP (PlayStation Portable), including a digital camera add-on and a GPS receiver.

Sony has announced a range of new accessories and abilities for the PSP (PlayStation Portable), including a digital camera add-on and a GPS receiver.

At the 2006 PlayStation Business Briefing in Tokyo, Sony Computer president Ken Kutaragi took the stage to lay out his vision for, among other things, the future of the PSP. He said that, beginning in October, the portable would support video voice-over IP via the new PSP-300 silver digital camera add-on, which will attach to the top of the PSP unit. Kutaragi showed a slide that the camera would support a video chat via a format he called "motion jpeg" and an EyeToy game to be released in September. No price was mentioned.

The SCE president also announced another new peripheral, the PSP-290 GPS receiver. According to a slide shown at the event, the PSP-290 will also attach to the top of the device and be silver in colour. It will also be available in October, though no price was mentioned.

In addition, Kutaragi announced that Sony is developing an emulator that will allow PSPs to play original PlayStation games. He said the PS games would be digitally distributed to PSPs, adding ammo to rumours that Sony is planning to distribute classic games much like Microsoft already does with the Xbox 360 and Nintendo will with the Revolution.

Since the PSP's built-in memory is limited, the digital-distribution announcement also seems to lend credence to the rumour that a second PSP with built-in flash memory is in the works, though Kutaragi did not confirm so explicitly.

Kutaragi concretely confirmed another rumour -- that the PSP would play games made with version 6 of Macromedia Flash. He also said the handheld would support RSS feeds later this year.

At the same time across, Sony Computer Entertainment America announced that it is dropping the US price of the PSP. Starting March 22, gamers will be able to pick up the portable for just US$199, versus the US$249 Value Pack currently available. But while the Value Pack contains a 32MB Memory Stick Duo, a soft case, a remote control, and headphones, the only peripherals mentioned as being in the US$199 PSP package are an "AC adaptor and battery," which are also included in the Value Pack. Sony Computer Entertainment Australia spokesman Adrian Christie said no decision had yet been made on whether the new PSP pack will be bought into Australia.

Sony used the new price point announcement to proclaim that since the PSP's launch last March, it has shipped 15 million units worldwide. It boasted that, so far, the handheld has brought in "more than US$1.6 billion as of calendar year 2005, more than both Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS combined".

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