GC 2008: PSP-3000, 160GB PS3, PS3 keypad unveiled

[UPDATE] Mic-enabled portable hitting Europe Oct. 15 via eight 199-euro bundles; new 449-euro consoles coming Oct. 31; PlayTV launches Sept. 19, LittleBigPlanet Oct. 19; bluetooth keypad also due out by November's end.

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LEIPZIG, Germany--Today at its press conference at the Leipzig Games Convention, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe came out swinging. Presenter SCEE head David Reeves wasted little time in unveiling two new models of his company's top gaming devices, the PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation 3.

First off, Reeves formally announced the PSP-3000, which had been rumored for several months. The model will come with a built-in microphone and a new screen that will "reduce any glare that the user may experience." The handheld will arrive October 15 in Europe via eight €199 bundles. Three games set to receive the bundle treatment include FIFA 09, Harry Potter, and Buzz! Master Quiz. On the same day, the handheld will also be released in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand; no North American release details are yet public.

Hardly breaking stride, Reeves quickly wheeled to the subject of a new 160GB PS3, which will touch down in Europe on October 31. Priced at €449, the new console SKU will come with 70 euros' worth of "additional downloadable" content that will vary from country to country. Reeves offered no information about its release in other territories.

Next up, the executive dated two other highly anticipated PS3 projects. The first was PlayTV, which launches in UK on September 19 and the rest of Europe later in the year. Announced at GC 2007, PlayTV is a digital video recorder (DVR), which will bring TiVo-like TV tuning and recording functionality to Sony's console. Currently, the service is only planned for Europe.

The PS3 typepad.
The PS3 typepad.

Next up was the official dating of LittleBigPlanet, the award-winning PS3 platformer from British indie studio Media Molecule. Set for European release on Sunday, October 19, the highly customizable game's easy-to-use toolset and family-friendly cast of "Sackboy" characters aims to expand the PS3's user base. "I believe this game is going to be a huge success and change people's perceptions of gaming," said Reeves.

The outspoken executive then announced that Sony would release a wireless PS3 keypad similar to the Xbox 360 model released last year. The rechargeable blue-tooth add-on will snap onto either the Sixaxis or DualShock 3 controller and will be available in eight versions in PAL territories to accommodate various languages. The keypad also features a touchpad mode for mouse input and "could be used for a new interface for gaming" said Reeves. He also said the keypad could be used for text messaging in Sony's forthcoming PlayStation Home service, bypassing the PS3's current cell-phone-like predictive text system.

Reeves also announced a deal with UK-based mobile music streaming service Vidzone. The deal will give British and European PS3 owners unlimited, free access to the company's music video offerings, which include such UK chart-toppers as the Chemical Brothers' "Midnight Madness" and Madonna's "Give it 2 Me." Vidzone also offers a basic music recommendation service.

[UPDATE] Shortly after SCEE announcements, Sony Computer Entertainment America announces its release plans for the same hardware models. In November, the 160GB PS3 will arrive in North America as part of a $499 bundle which will also include Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and a Pain voucher. The PSP-3000 will hit US and Canada in October as either a $169 PSP Core Pack or as part of one of the $199 PSP Entertainment Packs. The wireless keypad for the PS3 controller will arrive stateside by the end of November.

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