Sony this morning unveiled at a press event in Tokyo its rumored successor to the six-years-old PlayStation Portable. Codenamed the NGP (an acronym for Next Generation Portable), the great-looking gizmo boasts an impressive hardware built around a quad-core Cortex-A9 processor coupled with a PowerVR SGX543MP4+ quad-core graphics unit from Imagination Technologies. Another thing of note is a huge five-inch OLED multitouch capacitive display running a 960 by 544 pixel resolution - effectively doubling the PSP's 480 by 272 pixel resolution. Both back and front cameras are also found on the handheld.
Comprehensive controls system
When it comes to the controls, Sony's engineers went to great lengths to provide the best of both worlds, touch&tilt plus traditional physical controls. As a result of this approach, the NGP has traditional directional, action and shoulder buttons plus dual analog sticks on the front, in addition to a five-inch capacitive multitouch pad mounted on the back that matches the front screen in positioning. Tilt controls are handled via a six-axis motion sensing system comprised of a gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass - all supporting three-axis sensing.
Such a control richness should pave the way to a new kind of games with inventive controls enabling gamers to precisely control in-game action using the front analog sticks while simultaneously accessing additional in-game capabilities by running their fingers across the back surface capable of sensing a variety of multitouch gestures such as trace, grab, push and pull.
Games and backward compatibility
Although the console will support downloadable content, games will be distributed on small, dedicated flash memory-based cards that will let you save game data and downloadable content to them, such as new levels in games downloaded through the PlayStation Network. It's nice that the NGP will be backwards-compatible with your existing PSP titles, minis, PS one classics, video and comics from the PlayStation Store.
The NGP will connect to the PlayStation Network and utilize new social features like LiveArea to connect with other players or the Near feature that list nearby players so you can share game data with them wirelessly.
As you'd expect from Sony, more than a dozen games were demoed, including well-known franchises such as Killzone, Uncharted, WipEout, LittleBigPlanet, Call of Duty, Resistance, Little Deviants, Hot Shots Golf, Reality Fighters, Gravity Daze, Smart As, Broken and Hustle Kings.
And now, the bad news. The NGP will make its debut at the end of this year and Sony gave no clue about its pricing, battery life and we don't know how much the games will approximately cost.
The Sony Next Generation Portable specs
- 182 by 18.6 by 83.5 millimeter
- Cortex-A9 quad-core processor
- Imagination Technologies' SGX543MP4+ quad-core graphics unit
- five-inch OLED touchscreen with 960 by 544 pixel resolution
- five-inch touchpad on the back that matches the screen in positioning
- dual analog sticks on the front
- front and back cameras
- accelerometer, gyroscope and electronic compass, all sensing in three-axis
- built-in stereo speakers and microphone
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n wireless networking, 3G cellular connectivity, GPS positioning
- Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)
- physical buttons include the PS button, power button, directional buttons (up, down, left and right), action buttons (triangle, circle, cross, square), shoulder buttons (left and right), Start button, Select button and volume up and down buttons