Friday, January 28, 2011

Sony unveils Next Generation Portable

The internet is awash with news of the latest addition to Sony’s line up – the Next Generation Portable (or NGP to its friends). It may look just like the original PlayStation Portable (PSP) and, for that matter, it may sound like the original PlayStation Portable - but it’s got gamers bristling with anticipation. It’s due out later this year so there’s plenty of time to put some money aside - but should Nintendo be quaking in its boots?

The NGP specs sheet is suitably exciting: besides the fairly meaty processor there’s the 5-inch organic light emitting display (OLED) touch screen, a touchpad on the back(!), motion sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, cameras on the front and back, dual analogue sticks, and good old Wi-Fi and 3G thrown in for good measure. What’s more, a new flash memory card is being introduced to store games and content (as if there weren’t enough memory cards already, eh?). Anyone miss the UMD discs from the 2004 PSP? No, didn’t think so.

Full specifications (from Sony)

CPU: ARM® Cortex™-A9 core (4 core)
External Dimensions: Approx. 182.0W x 18.6H x 83.5D mm
Screens (Touch Screen): 5 inches (16:9), 960 x 544, approx. 16 million colours, OLED multi touch screen, capacitive type
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, Wireless 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 = 1x1) (Wireless), (Infrastructure Mode/Ad Hoc Mode), Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)

Must admit I quite like the rear touch screen thing - check out the video below at around 45 seconds...

A gaggle of journalists crammed themselves into the Sony press conference in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday to hear the news and coo over the sleek black device. Plenty of third party publishers are said to be getting onboard too, which suggests a raft of pretty decent games will soon be available. The prospects of playing Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted and Call of Duty is enough to get us positively salivating. There were some more social aspects regarding the console too – including the ability to use the 3G and check where nearby gamers are and what they’ve been playing.

The price for this new bit of kit hasn’t yet been announced but CVG reports that industry analyst Michael Pachter suggests it could cost around $250/£200. Can’t quite get my head around whether that sounds a little cheap considering PS3-equivalent gaming on the move, or whether consumers will baulk at Sony asking them to dip into their pockets so soon after the PSPgo!

What’s more, Sony says that PlayStation games will soon be available for mobile phones that run Android! That will certainly keep us going until Sony launches the rumoured PlayStation phone we all want so much.

Me? I’m going to dust off my old PSP and give Lumines another go.