UMD-less PSP2 due by early November?

Pulled podcast may have revealed that Sony will soon announce a new portable with a sliding front--and no optical disc drive.

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What we heard: Though rumors of a new PSP have ebbed and flowed throughout the year, this morning a hurricane of speculation descended on Sony's portable format. At its center was a podcast from 1up, the severely downsized former online arm of Ziff-Davis Media's game group, publishers of the late EGM magazine. The site is now a subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation, owner of the imperiled San Francisco Chronicle.

Though quickly taken down, the podcast's initial version was caught by the popular game blog Kotaku. Senior editor Michael McWhertor reported that the podcast's hosts bragged to have seen the new PSP firsthand. Called the PSP Go!--a title the hosts reportedly derided--the new handheld will apparently have a bigger screen and slide-out controls similar to Sony's mylo Internet device (pictured center). If true, the device's name could augur a US video download service for the portable, as it already supports such a service--called Go!View--in the UK.

Shortly after an edited version of the podcast subsequently went live, 1up posted an article that confirmed some PSP Go! details while shrouding others in uncertainty. On one hand, author David Ellis claims flatly, "According to sources directly involved with the new system, we have learned that Sony will quell those rumors by unveiling their revamped PSP at this year's E3 conference in June."

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The new PSP will apparently, as rumored, be losing its UMD optical drive. Like Apple's wildly popular iPhone, it will reportedly come in two models with 8GB and 16GB of flash memory. It reportedly will not, however, boast the second thumbstick many PSP owners have asked for.

According to 1up's sources, the new PSP will launch in September in Japan with more than 100 "classic and new" digitally distributed titles. Ellis claims that the long-delayed Gran Turismo Mobile "is said to be one of the premier launch titles." Similar launches in Europe and North America will happen in "either late October or early November," according to the report.

Curiously, though, the 1up article went on to say the PSP Go! name was not confirmed, only "likely." It also said the design "could provide an 800x480 pixel touch screen for the system, as well as a camera on the system's backside" like the mylo. (Emphasis added.)

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The official story: "We don't comment on rumors and have made no such announcements. It's a shame that a little speculation on their part gets so much attention."-- Patrick Seybold, senior director of corporate communications and social media for Sony Computer Entertainment America.

Bogus or not bogus?: With PSP rumors reaching a fever pitch and Sony itself promising big PSP announcements at E3 next month, something is definitely in the works. Given McWhertor's reputation, it's unlikely he'd make something up out of whole cloth. Throw in 1up's story, and this is looking not bogus.

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