Online-enabled PSP to hit Korea in May

Sony's PSP will hit Korea with streaming content services and online gaming capabilities at launch.

According to sources in Korea, Sony Computer Entertainment will launch its PlayStation Portable, or PSP, in that country on May 2. Unlike the Japan and North America markets, the first shipment of the handheld will come with Internet features ready for use. Sony is partnering with KT Corp., a major wireless Internet service provider in Korea, to offer easy online connectivity and other services.

Similar to the North American launch, Korean consumers will be limited to the Value Pack bundle of the PSP (which will be priced at 328,000 won, or about $320, in that market). The Value Pack will come with the PSP unit, an AC adapter, battery pack, headphones with remote control, a carrying pouch, a cleaning cloth, a strap band, and a 32MB Memory Stick Duo. But that market's Value Pack will have one big difference from the unit's previous releases: out-of-the-box online connectivity.

The first 100,000 units sold of the Korean PSP Value Pack will come with a Network Utility UMD and a limited-time membership for wireless Internet service, in addition to a UMD movie of Spider-Man 2.

By tapping the Network Utility UMD functionality, gamers in Korea will be able to enjoy a number of other online services in addition to games, including Web browsing, an online movie player, and an online music player.

The first shipments of the Value Pack also come with a membership for NESPOT, the wireless Web service offered by KT. Gamers who register to NESPOT will be able to access more than 14,000 wireless hot spots within Korea. They can also opt to get NESPOT APs (Access Points) installed in their houses for no additional charge. The first month of NESPOT usage will be free; thereafter, gamers will be charged a flat rate of 5,000 won ($4.92) per month.

Gamers who register with NESPOT will also receive a free online-enabled game developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Korea (SCEK), titled Glorace.

Other networked services scheduled for PSP consumers in Korea include on-demand streaming music, on-demand streaming videos (including TV shows), e-learning options, and electronic books. SCEK and KT expect that they will be the first companies to provide a full online experience for the PSP user in any market.

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