Sony this morning took the wraps off its PlayStation Portable successor. It’s codenamed the NGP (Next Generation Portable) and we’re at least nine months away from the launch so the initial information is scarce. That didn’t stop the Japanese consumer electronics powerhouse to release a bunch of stunning renders to wet our appetite.

If the below images don’t impress you, how about beefy specs that make the NGP the most powerful mobile gaming console ever – at least on paper? Sony is making up for the absence of a 3D display with a quad-core Cortex-A9 processor and Imagination Technologies’ SGX543MP4+ graphics unit. What we know nothing about at the moment is the clock frequency, battery life, hardware pricing and how much we’ll be paying for games.

By the way, all product shots are copyrighted to Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. and are included here for the sake of completeness and your viewing pleasure. Also, bear in mind that the console’s design and specifications are subject to change without notice. And now, boys and girls, without further ado, we present the PSP 2 – possibly your next mobile gaming console and the one that’ll give Apple’s iPod touch a run for its money.

We begin with this dramatic shot proving Sony hasn’t lost its mojo when it comes to stunning hardware design and build quality. Just take a look at this smooth curvature and the precision with which the cover glass follows the console’s rounded shape.

Here’s a look at the gizmo from a different angle. I like that stainless steel band running around the edges, like on iPhone 4. Here’s to hoping it’s the real metal we’re seeing here and not some cheap, plasticky substitute.

Did you notice anything strange? That’s right, the NGP has added dual analog sticks next to the familiar PlayStation buttons.

Another dramatic shot that convinced us Sony took more than a few design clues from iPhone 4. Check out that Mac-like power button and the sexy, round volume up and down buttons.

I bet you’re wondering about that retro-looking pattern on the console’s back? It’s actually a five-inch capacitive multitouch pad that matches the front screen in positioning.

Yes, those are all PlayStation’s trademark symbols – squares, triangles, circles, and Xs.

And here’s how it works. You trace, grab, push, pull and perform other multitouch gestures while gripping the console. These gestures complement your primary input via dual analog sticks and the PlayStation buttons on the front. All of this is augmented with six-axis motion controls, courtesy of built-in gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass sensors. How cool is that?

Here’s the birds-eye view of the NGP’s front side. Let’s turn it on…

The five-inch OLED display lights up with vivid colors. The display is of the multitouch capacitive type and tops out at 960 by 544 pixel resolution – that’s four times the number of pixels on the PSP’s 480 by 272 display.

A closer look at the home screen. The console connects to the PlayStation Network via built-in WiFi (802.11 b/g/n) or 3G cellular. You can download music, movies, comics and game content off the PlayStation Network. The online service also supports NGX-specific social features like LiveArea that lets you share game data with other players and the Near feature that list nearby players (yes, GPS is also built-in).

The NGP’s top houses left and right shoulder buttons, the power button and the volume up and down buttons. On the bottom, ports for dedicated flash memory-based cards that hold save game data, downloadable content and games. That’s right, no inexpensive over-the-air game downloads via an app store for you today!

Left and right profile views. The NGP is 182mm wide, 83.5mm tall and 18.6mm deep, exactly twice as thick as the iPhone 4.

And that, dear readers, concludes our tour of the new PlayStation Portable, due by the end of 2011. Love it or hate it, but do chime in with your comments below.