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Sony unveils new handheld to take on DS, smartphones

posted 27 Jan 2011, 04:26 by Mpelembe   [ updated 27 Jan 2011, 04:29 ]

Sony unveils new PlayStation Portable gaming console which features 3G and wireless connectivity in a bid to strengthen its competitive edge over Nintendo, smartphones and tablets PCs.

TOKYO, JAPAN (JANUARY 27, 2011) REUTERS - Sony Corp showcased a new handheld gaming device on Thursday (January 27), the first to feature 3G wireless connectivity, as it battles with Nintendo's best-selling DS and tries to fend off rising competition from smartphones and tablets.

Sony said the new device, which it has codenamed "NGP" for Next Generation Portable, will go on sale around the year-end. It didn't provide any pricing details.

"We would like to make computer entertainment not only part of the living room but also make it portable and leave the home anytime, anywhere," Sony Computer Entertainment Kazuo Hirai told gathered journalists from around the world at a Tokyo news conference.

"The future will become reality. We believe we must always propose a future and work to it's realisation," he added.

The announcement came the same day Nintendo reported a 46.5 percent fall in quarterly profit as sales of its aging DS device tumbled ahead of it's launch next month of a 3D capable model.

Sony's new device will feature 3G wireless connectivity, the first in a portable games device, and use a 5-inch OLED panel, the company said. That compares with 3.5 inches for a standard smartphone screen.

The device also has a back touch pad in addition to the front touch panel and a motion sensor for more intuitive use, Sony said.

Some foreign journalists invited to Tokyo said the announcement of the connectivity was revolutionary.

"Maybe one day it will be possible to have the same game running on your PS3 at home and on your portable. So you will be able to move and play seamless on the same game. It's quite very very innovative and new. And all the stuff with the tactile can be interesting but we can see that kind of stuff on iPhone and even the DS from Nintendo," said Olivier Bal, Senior Editor for PlayStation Magazine France.

With smartphones and tablets from the likes of Apple eating into the market for portable gaming devices, Sony and Nintendo desperately need a blockbuster product to boost sales and profit.

Nintendo's DS sold nearly 136 million units up to last September. Sony's PSP has sold some 61 million.

Next week, Sony is expected to post a fall in profits for the period of October-December, hit by its struggling TV business.