Today, Sony finally revealed the “PSP2,” which they’re referring to as the “NGP” or “Next Generation Portable.” At this point, it isn’t clear if that is the official name or not. Personally, I hope they come up with something a bit better, but only time will tell. Other than perhaps the name (and the fact that price has not yet been established), it seems like Sony may actually have learned their lessons from the PSP and PSPGo’s mistakes.
For example, the new device finally includes dual analog sticks, something that has been sorely lacking for years in every iteration of the original PSP, and may be a problem in Nintendo’s new 3DS. They are also sticks – not just nubs – and hopefully these should relieve the frustration many gamers experienced with the paltry one found in the current PSP. Sony has also finally bit the bullet and embraced touch technology. The NGP will feature a capacitive touch screen (similar to an iPhone’s screen), as well as a touchpad on the back, which will presumably allow for touch-based controls that won’t interfere with your view of the screen.
The NGP also will have two built-in cameras (good-bye, bulky add-ons!), one facing outward, and one facing in, enabling various practical as well as in-game applications. Like the iPhone and the 3DS, the NGP has built-in sensors for tilt and movement: A gyroscope, an accelerometer, and an electronic compass. The device will also be WiFi capable, and have 3G, making it unique in that you can always have an Internet connection. However, Sony hasn’t specified yet whether the device will require a contract and if a WiFi-only model will be available at a slightly lower cost. Most likely we will learn more about this as the year goes on, since Sony has said the device won’t launch until the end of the year at the earliest.
Another thing achievement junkies will be pleased to hear: The NGP will be able to connect to PSN just like your PS3 does, and will support trophies at long last. The device will also be partially backwards compatible, able to play PSP games, PS One titles, and Minis, provided these are digital in form, as the new device abandons the maligned UMD drive and discs in favour of flash-based media for retail games.
The NGP boasts power comparable to the PS3, and its OLED screen is supposedly better than anything else portable on the market. Reportedly, it blows the retina-display of Apple’s iPhone 4 out of the water with four times the resolution of the current PSP. Over 80 publishers are supposedly on board and preparing games for the new device, although none have been revealed. Along with the reveal of the NGP, Sony also revealed what they are calling the PlayStation Suite, which is sort of like an app store and will be available on Android devices to provide the “PlayStation experience” to various devices, including the yet-to-be-officially announced PSP Phone. It isn’t clear whether these apps will be different from content normally found via PSN, and/or whether the PlayStation Suite will be available on the NGP. Still, with the PS Suite presumably set to launch in tune with the NGP, it would seem that Sony has finally realized how much of a competitor Apple and its App Store really are.
Although no official price has yet been released, and probably won’t be for some time, some analysts are suggesting the device may have a list price of at least $299 US at launch due to the expensive equipment (such as the OLED screen, touch pad back, and more). However, if Sony really has learned their lessons from the PSP Go, they’ll put the price at $250 US, making it a direct competition for Nintendo’s 3DS.
Personally, as much as I love my DSes (yes, I have several), right now Sony’s new device is looking much more appealing than Nintendo’s. Of course, we have yet to hear pricing or any specific games, and we all know that games and the price are what sell systems, not fancy tech specs.