PSP price cut to $199, future features unveiled

[UPDATE2] GPS, mini-EyeToy video VoIP, digitally distributed PS, Flash games announced in Japan; new price point unveiled in US.

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TOKYO--Today at the 2006 PlayStation Business Briefing in Tokyo, Sony Computer president Ken Kutaragi took the stage to lay out his vision for, among other things, the future of the PSP. He said that, beginning in October, the portable would support video voice-over IP via the new PSP-300 silver digital camera add-on, which will attach to the top of the PSP unit. Kutaragi showed a slide that the camera would support a video chat via a format he called "motion jpeg" and an EyeToy game to be released in September. No price was mentioned.

[UPDATE2] The SCE president also announced another new peripheral, the PSP-290 GPS receiver. According to a slide shown at the event, the PSP-290 will also attach to the top of the device and be silver in color. It will also be available in October, though no price was mentioned.

In addition, Kutaragi announced that Sony is developing an emulator that will allow PSPs to play original PlayStation games. He said the PS games would be digitally distributed to PSPs, adding ammo to rumors that Sony is planning to distribute classic games much like Microsoft already does with the Xbox 360 and Nintendo will with the Revolution.

Since the PSP's built-in memory is limited, the digital-distribution announcement also seems to lend credence to the rumor that a second PSP with built-in flash memory is in the works, though Kutaragi did not confirm so explicitly.

Kutaragi concretely confirmed another rumor--that the PSP would play games made with version 6 of Macromedia Flash. He also said the handheld would support RSS feeds later this year.

The executive then went on to officially confirm the delay of the PS3 and announce new features for the platform.

[UPDATE] At the same time across the Pacific, Sony Computer Entertainment America announced that it is dropping the US price of the PSP. Starting March 22, gamers will be able to pick up the portable for just $199, versus the $249 Value Pack currently available. But while the Value Pack contains a 32MB Memory Stick Duo, a soft case, a remote control, and headphones, the only peripherals mentioned as being in the $199 PSP package are an "AC adaptor and battery," which are also included in the Value Pack.

Europe and Canada will also see the PSP's price drop to 199 euros ($239) and CA$229 ($198), respectively.

Sony used the new price point announcement to proclaim that since the PSP's launch last March, it has shipped 15 million units worldwide. It boasted that, so far, the handheld has brought in "more than $1.6 billion as of calendar year 2005, more than both Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS combined."

The company also said that by month's end there will be "more than 107 games and more than 347 feature films, TV programs, and videos from major studios" available for the PSP in North America.

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