80GB PS3 officially available in US

Higher-capacity version of console now available in North America for US$599/C$649; 60GB version expected to last until "fall."


The 80GB PS3, up close and personal.
The 80GB PS3, up close and personal.

Less than a month after Sony Computer Entertainment announced the 80GB PlayStation 3 at the E3 Media & Business Summit, it has officially arrived in North America. US reps for the game giant today confirmed the higher-capacity model is now available in the US and Canada, where it retails for $599 and C$649, respectively. Currently, the console comes bundled with the heavily promoted off-road racer MotorStorm, although its packaging says it is a "limited edition."

First released in South Korea, the 80GB PS3's US debut was announced alongside a $100 price drop for the 60GB PS3. Though the latter's new $499 price point was hailed as a long-overdue move by analysts, its rapt reception dissipated somewhat when Sony confirmed it was ceasing manufacture of the console and phasing it out.

But while the 60GB console's days are numbered, its supply is holding up despite a massive increase in demand. According to Sony, sales of the console have increased 113 percent at its top five retail partners--Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, and GameStop--when compared to average sales during the month before drop. Sony did not supply specific sales figures for the PS3, which sold 98,500 units in the US in June, according to the NPD group.

So when will stocks of the $499 60GB PS3 run out? Sony predicts that, at current demand levels, the console will remain in the North American retail channel until "fall." Besides being cheaper that its 80GB sibling, the 60GB PS3 also contains emotion engine hardware to play PlayStation 2 and original PlayStation games. Like the Xbox 360, the 80GB model uses software emulation for its backwards compatibility.

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