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Sony to release new PlayStation Portable this year

Associated Press Modified: January 27, 2011 at 6:05 am •  Published: January 27, 2011

TOKYO (AP) — Sony said the successor to its PlayStation Portable machine will go on sale late this year, offering the quality of a home console in an on-the-go machine boasting a screen double the size of smart phones.

The announcement Thursday of the "next generation portable" underlines efforts at the Japanese electronics and entertainment company to ward off the formidable threat from Apple Inc., which is delivering one hit product after another, while also trying to get an edge over Nintendo Co., maker of the DS handheld game machine.

The popularity of smart phones including the iPhone is a potential threat to game machine makers as more people play games, watch video, send e-mail and chat on cell phones. People are also using other portable devices such as Apple's iPod and iPad to play games.

Sony's new machine, known for now by its code-name NGP, comes packed with motion sensor and GPS location technology so that gamers can tilt and sway the machine to play golf games, kill monsters and experience other "virtual realities," said Kazuo Hirai, who heads Sony Corp.'s gaming section.

It has a touch panel in the front and touch pads in the back to allow players to tap on the machine to move images, in addition to the usual buttons and switches.

Also provided is a third-generation wireless connection plus the already available WiFi, allowing for more social networking and downloads. Its five-inch screen is OLED — a different technology from liquid-crystal display — for good color and image quality about four times better than the current PSP.

Sony said gamers will be able to experience games they had been playing on the PlayStation 3 home console without any drop in quality.

Hirai proudly held the shiny black machine up for the cameras, declaring: "This is the NGP."

He told reporters that the NGP's price will hit "a sweet spot," that reflects its quality while ensuring consumer appeal. He also said the machine will get a "more creative" name than NGP later.

Sony was studying release timing and has not decided whether it will be simultaneous or different for each region as that would depend on software availability and other factors, he said.

"We will pursue the ultimate in entertainment," said Hirai. "We want to create a revolution in your hands."

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