Sony’s Sexy Little Thang

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Sony Computer Entertainment America‘s (SCEA) press conference at E3 sizzled with bright lights and giant screens as it projected products for 2004. One of the highlights was the official announcement of Sony’s PSP (PlayStation Portable).

The PSP is a hand-held video game system similar to Nintendo’s Game Boy. However unlike Game Boy and other hand-held devices in the past that were made solely to play video games, the PSP will provide more integrated entertainment capabilities.

“We are moving into the 21st century with the mobile device,” said Kazuo Hirai, CEO of SCEA. “And the PSP is as revolutionary as the PS2.”

The sleek hand-held gaming unit is another innovation in Sony’s pocket and is looking to beat out all other hand-held gaming devices in both the current market and in the future. The biggest selling point is the huge 4.3″, 16.9″ widescreen TFT LCD screen. Clocking in at 480 x 272 pixels and 1.677 million colors, the PSP’s screen displays incomparable sharpness and brilliance.

The PSP will have the ability to play superior-quality videos and movies via Sony’s optical proprietary media disk, the UMD (universal media disk). The PSP will also have wireless connectivity, enabling users to download content, music, videos and more. Parental control will also be available.

What is really piquing the interest of video game and technology fans is that the PSP acts in some ways as a cross between a PDA and a mini-computer. The PSP will have IEEE 802.11b connectivity (high-speed wireless connection), USB 2.0 connectivity, a Memory Stick PRO Duo reader (for Sony’s smart cards which currently can hold up to 512 MB of information), IrDA (infrared readability) and an IR remote.

Though not officially announced, the accessories being looked into include fiber optic-looking mini-glass panel keyboards, cellular phone adaptors, clothing and other lifestyle-related accessories.

Though no price point has been revealed, Hirai was quick to define the target audience for the PSP. “The primary target we are looking at is the 18- to 34-year-olds who are more likely to use their disposable income on new technology,” he said. “Our second market is the teen market.”

Sony also announced a price drop to $149 on PlayStation 2 consoles. “SCEA is looking to demonstrate its continuing growth on the PS2,” Hirai said.

The price drop came at a time after SCEA had already reached 90 percent of its overall PlayStation 2 sales volume.

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