Sony announces PSP handheld

SCEI will release an all-in-one portable entertainment platform at the end of 2004.

Sony Computer Entertainment has today announced that it will release what it describes as an all-in-one portable entertainment platform toward the end of 2004. The portable device is officially known as the "PSP," an acronym that evokes the PlayStation brand. Sony's goal for the PSP is to "extend the reach of the PlayStation to a broader audience, allowing consumers to enjoy gaming and other entertainment content anytime, anywhere."

While specifics about content licensing and partnerships aren't expected until this summer, it's clear that Sony plans to make 3D games and other types of entertainment content available for the PSP. The device will use small, large-capacity optical discs as its primary mode of storage. The PSP's disc format will be Sony's own Universal Media Disc (UMD), which is a 60mm optical disc with a capacity of 1.8GB encased in a cartridge. The discs will feature an advanced copy protection technology to reassure publishers of the safety of their content. The PSP will also have a high-speed USB 2.0 port to connect to a variety of consumer devices, including PCs and the PlayStation 2. The other option for transferring data is with Sony memory sticks.

The PSP's display will be a widescreen 480x272-pixel LCD illuminated by a backlight. The device promises robust 3D graphics, powered by advanced .09-micron chips. Sony intends the PSP to not only use traditional polygonal 3D graphics, but also curved surfaces (NURBs) that are not common in current games but could result in very smoothly curved visuals. The device will also be able to play high-quality MPEG4-encoded video. Sony plans to make PC-based development tools available this fall to let developers prepare a new range of entertainment content.

"Just as the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 revolutionized in-home computer entertainment, we aim to become a new driving force in the portable entertainment platform arena," said Ken Kutaragi, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment. "The world of the PlayStation encompasses hundreds of millions of users worldwide, most of whom view computer entertainment as part of their everyday lives. Along with game applications, the PSP will have a huge potential for delivering other forms of entertainment as well as live entertainment through the network, anywhere, anytime. This is the Walkman of the 21st century."

The PSP will launch at the end of 2004. Specific details on release plans and pricing will be released later.

The full specifications for the PSP system are as follows:

Display: Widescreen (16:9) TFT LCD with backlight (480x272)
Disc: “UMD” 60mm optical secured ROM disc with cartridge (1.8GB)
Video CODEC: MPEG4
Graphics: 3D (polygons and NURBs)
Sound: PCM (built-in stereo speakers, stereo headphone output)
I/O: USB 2.0, Memory Stick slot
Battery: Rechargeable (lithium-ion)

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