E3 2001: The PlayStation 2 goes online

Sony Computer Entertainment made several key announcements this morning regarding its online plans for the PlayStation 2.

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Sony Computer Entertainment unleashed a bevy of stories relating to its online strategy early Wednesday morning, preceding the first official day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. These announcements are hot on the heels of Sony publicizing a partnership with AOL yesterday. Sony will hold its press conference later today, but headlining these early stories is the announcement that a network adapter for the PlayStation 2 has been developed and will ship in North America in November 2001.

The adapter will let PlayStation 2 owners move into the online console terrain with the V90 analog modem combined with high-speed Ethernet connection for high-speed, broadband readiness. The adapter will ship with a hard disk drive as well. Through previously announced agreements with AOL, Sony will provide AOL channels through the PlayStation 2, letting users access various features such as instant messaging. The Netscape browser will be available for PlayStation 2 as well. The adapter will retail for $39.95 in November.

In related news, Sony announced an alliance with RealNetworks to imbed RealPlayer 8 and other RealNetworks technologies into the PlayStation 2 to allow the system to display streaming audio and video content.

Keeping to the online topic, Sony also revealed that Cisco Systems has created new Internet Protocol (IP) software to allow PlayStation 2 users access to the Internet and let game developers create broadband-enabled content for games. The company will initially provide Sony with IPv4 to be incorporated into the PlayStation 2. Later, Sony will work with Cisco to develop an IPv4/IPv6 dual protocol stack. "IPv6 is definitely the base for the broadband era," said Ken Kutaragi, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment. "And the PlayStation 2 will be one of the first home entertainment platforms in the world to incorporate an IPv4/IPv6 dual protocol stack. We will incorporate IPv4 protocol stack and IPv4/IPv6 dual stack as provided by Cisco to the PlayStation 2 Software Development Kit. By having the dual protocol stack, it will be much easier for the developers to create content for the broadband network and will further accelerate the arrival of the broadband era."

Lastly, Sony Computer Entertainment announced a partnership with Macromedia to bring the Macromedia Flash Player to the PlayStation 2. Sony will be previewing the Macromedia Flash Player's enhanced Web presentations on the PlayStation 2 later this week during the E3 convention.

Many believe that Nintendo and Microsoft will follow suit and make similar announcements regarding online capabilities for the GameCube and Xbox systems later today. Check back in here for further pre-E3 show reports from the Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony press conferences, which will be held at 8:00am, 10:30am, and 1:00pm PST, respectively. As previously stated, GameSpot will provide live streaming video broadcasts from the Nintendo and Sony events.

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