Sony plans to launch a handheld version of its popular PlayStation console this November, the company has revealed.
Speaking to the official Playstation.com website, Chris Deering, recently made president of Sony Europe, confirmed that the target date for launching the PSP portable system would be November 2004.
The product was first announced last May and specifications are with developers, so that games are likely to be available by the launch date. However unlike the PlayStation 2, which was backwards compatible with its predecessor, the PSP will not work directly with either system. It is thought that it may work with the planned PSX home media system through devices such as the Memory Stick.
“Everyone understands immediately what a PSP is; it’s the Walkman of the next century,” said Deering. “It brings TV quality of portable gaming into existence for the first time, with a massive UMD disc enabling content that was never before possible in a portable mode. The features of music playing (the MP3) and Memory Stick feature, along with the capacity to handle all kind of video content in addition to the great games, and maybe even more features that involve GPRS modems, location-based (GPS type) software, messaging and other features make it a very handy thing to have and something which will be very fashionable to be seen with.”
On the PSX system, which is due for launch this year, Deering said: “Online interactive use of television is in its infancy. Attempts in the past have been made with web TV and, more recently, with Tivo-type PVR [personal video recording] features, and they’ve got amazing reviews from people who use them and who understand them, but the mass market still hasn’t quite caught onto that. But it is happening, and we think that PlayStation is an efficient and very exciting way to open up the world of what you really can do in your living room.”
Deering added that the PSX’s navigation system would be easy to understand. “Once you have that in place, along with the sizeable hard drive capacity, you can also do other things that make more sense in the living room than on the desktop. For example, edit your home movies, do your own playlists for living room enjoyment with music and even more robust forms of online gaming; possibly downloading demos of games, or at least non-playable video of games and, with an electronic programme guide, even allowing the power of PlayStation to create your own channel for you.”
He admitted it was “still early days” for the general category, but he pointed to signs in the Japanese market that interest in the PSX is growing. The system was launched there last year and will be unveiled in Europe soon.
By Gordon Smith