Speculation that a new PlayStation 3 model would be coming started back in March, when it was reported that Sony had filed for permission to change the PS3's specs with the Federal Communications Commission, including an upgrade of the console's hard drive to 80GB. Sony's official line was that there were "various possibilities in mind," but a new product was not right around the corner.
Recently, Sony discontinued the 20GB model in North America, and Europeans have never been given the option of the cheaper console--at launch, only the 60GB version was available, and the release of the 20GB version is now looking increasingly unlikely. Microsoft's new Xbox 360 Elite--which sports a 120GB hard drive--recently went on sale in North America.
Now, finally, the 80GB cat is out of the bag. The new PS3 model will be released in less than a month--although currently only in South Korea.
The release date is set for June 16, and the price of the new model will be 518,000 won (approximately $558). However, the Korean market will not have the option of choosing between models of the PS3--Sony has confirmed that only the 80GB version will be available in the region.
The 80GB PS3 on sale in Korea, like the existing European 60GB edition, will rely on software emulation for backward compatibility, as it too lacks the Emotion Engine chip that was present in the original models on sale in Japan and the US. Sony said in a statement that the Korean PS3 version is "identical to the European model in terms of all other technical specs [apart from the size of the hard drive]."
When asked if the release of the new console in Korea would mean that 80GB models would be going on sale in other regions, a Sony spokesperson said, "We have no plans to release the 80GB model PS3 in Europe at this time."