E3 '07: New PSP model coming

Sony confirms slimmer, lighter PSP model in the works; includes extended battery life and hi-definition video output to TVs.

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Rumours have been flying around for a while that the PlayStation Portable would be getting a redesign.

One of the first rumours came from a UK event to launch the PSP in Education initiative, where Sony Computer Entertainment Europe managing director Ray Maguire called the current version of the PSP the "first iteration" of the hardware and that a "smaller, lighter" version would be coming in the future.

However, the company furiously backtracked after the event, with Sony America corporate communications director Dave Karraker saying, "Ray's comments regarding decreasing the size of the PSP were made in the general context that almost all consumer electronics shrink over time as advances are made in the technology to shrink the components used in manufacture. We have not, however, made any announcement regarding any new PSP hardware changes."

In June, Sony updated a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which showed a diagram of a possible new PSP model that featured a swivel screen and a way to switch between using it as a games machine and a mobile phone. More speculation followed that the new PSP was imminent and that it would also be a cell phone.

Today, Sony confirmed that a new PSP would be coming and that the redesign would indeed be a newer, smaller PSP. It also revealed the new model would come in a variety of different colours. Announced so far for North America are both the classic "piano black," along with "ice silver," which will arrive in September. There will also be a special Star Wars design: a white PSP with a picture of Darth Vader's face on the back, to be available in October.

Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai said that the new PSP will be 33 percent lighter, 19 percent slimmer, the battery will be more efficient, and there will also be faster loading of games. It will also come with the ability to output high-quality video by pressing the display button. This means that movies, games, photos, and all other PSP applications can be output to a TV screen.

Two bundles were announced for the new portable for North America. The first, titled "The PSP entertainment pack for North America," includes the silver PSP, a copy of the Daxter game, a 1GB memory stick Duo, and a Family Guy collection UMD. The second is the new Star Wars Battlefront PSP pack, which will include the Star Wars: Battlefront Renegade Squadron game and the special Star Wars PSP. Both will cost $199.99.

For a closer look, check out GameSpot Hardware's in-depth examination of the device.

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