Sony unveils PSP2 “the next generation portable entertainment system”

Japanese entertainment giant Sony unveiled a portable touchscreen PlayStation as it looks to launch a fresh challenge to Nintendo and Apple in the competitive mobile gaming market.

At a special media event in Tokyo, Sony also unveiled a “Suite” application for older PlayStation games allowing them to be played on mobile phones and tablet computers running Google’s Android operating system.

The “Next Generation Portable” PlayStation will succeed Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld device and boasts 3G mobile connectivity and WiFi, allowing users to download games and other content, said Kazuo Hirai, president and group chief executive, Sony Computer Entertainment.

The NGP features a five-inch organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touchscreen, a GPS receiver, a motion sensor and a rear panel touchpad to control certain actions, as well as navigation buttons and a joystick.

Sony said the device would be available in time for the 2011 holiday shopping season but did not indicate a price.

The PSP2 or NGP’s hardware is certainly nothing to be modest about – it packs a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, dual analog sticks, front and rear cameras, dual rear touchpads, a high-resolution 960×544 pixel 5-inch OLED capacitive touchscreen, accelerometer/gyroscope (courtesy the PS Move controller), digital compass, GPS, and yes, both 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. Check out full specifications at the end of the article.

Wondering where UMD went, and if it went the way of the PSP Go? Nope – looks like Sony is still sticking with removable media as the one of the means of game distribution, if not the primary, but the new SD card resembling media looks like it will be proprietary. It will be meant for both games and other software, apart from game save data.

Demos shown by various game developers from such companies as Capcom, Konami, Epic Games, Tecmo Koei and Sega showcased the PSP2’s next generation graphics abilities, with the consensus being that it was nearly as capable as the PlayStation 3 console – if a little shy on the geometry front. Looking at Solid Snake below, it’s not too hard to be convinced that this is not just marketing hyperbole. Kojima explained the demo was actual PS3 MGS4 game content, ported to run on the PSP2 – which ran it at the same detail level but a little slower – at 20 fps. Game titles include Resistance, Killzone, Little Big Planet, Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid, Monster Hunter, Dynasty Warriors, and more.

As you can imagine, with a touchscreen, rear touchpads, and dual analog sticks in tow, the Next Generation Portable will certainly be offering a surfeit of input/interface options, and Sony calls it a revolutionary new interface. Gestures like “touch, grab, trace, push and pull” will be incorporated. The PSP2’s menu UI etc.,  and looks to be a heavily customized Android 2.3interface with navigable homescreens, and built in social-networking called LiveArea. LiveArea also includes location based connectivity and entertainment, where they will be able to chat with friends, keep track of their scores, the latest leaderboards, and what people are playing around them. The user will be able to seamlessly switch between LiveArea and the game…

Rear touchpad seen on its behind

The location-based interface also looks like it will also be partly responsible for game discovery. The NGP’s UI and games can also incorporate augmented reality, using its two cameras.

The PlayStation Suite of software and games titles will be based on a hardware agnostic development framework, and will work on devices operating on Android Gingerbread (2.3) or higher. This will obviously include the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. To this end, Sony will soon be launching a PlayStation Store for Android, which will feature first party and third-party games that have been tested for quality and performance across ‘PlayStation Certified’ devices and platforms. To start things off, the PlayStation Suite for Android will offer emulated PlayStation One games.

The PlayStation Suite will undoubtedly support a variety of Android handheld devices, from tablets to smartphones, and will emulate the PSP2 controls on touchscreens for everything other than hardware PlayStation control bearing the Xperia Play.

The Sony’s PSP Go, launched in November 2009, already features software downloads through a wireless connection, allowing players to also browse the Internet, watch movies, play music and read books and comics.
Its gaming rival Nintendo is also about to introduce its new 3DS handheld device next month which allows users to play 3D videogames without the need for special glasses, the first major game machine to do so.

Sony sold nearly 65 million PSPs as of the end of September 2010, but the device has been overshadowed by the popularity of Nintendo’s DS, which has sold at least double that since its release the same year.

Sony’s move comes as smartphones and tablet computers such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad take a growing share of the market for portable gaming devices onto which high quality games can be easily downloaded and played in minutes.

The Japanese company also unveiled the PlayStation Suite, an application for Google’s Android operating system market which will run videogames of older PlayStation console quality. Sony said the new application will be available later this year.


Sony PSP2 Specifications

Next Generation Portable (PSP2) Specifications
CPU ARM® Cortex™-A9 core (4 core)
Dimensions Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth) (tentative, excludes largest projection)
Rear touch pad Multi touch pad (capacitive type)
Cameras Front camera, Rear camera
Sound Built-in stereo speakers
Built-in microphone
Sensors Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), Three-axis electronic compass
Location Built-in GPS
Wi-Fi location service support
Keys / Switches PS button
Power button
Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left)
Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square)
Shoulder buttons (Right/Left)
Right stick, Left stick
START button, SELECT button
Volume buttons (+/-)
Wireless communications Mobile network connectivity (3G)
IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1×1)(Wi-Fi) (Infrastructure mode/Ad-hoc mode)
Bluetooth® 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)

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