Sony’s cutting-edge gaming gig NGP unveiled

Friday, January 28, 2011, 8:13 by Tech Correspondent

Sony has unveiled its next-generation portable gaming system, intriguingly codenamed NGP.

The president of Sony Computers, Kaz Hirai said in Tokyo that the device would be out this year. The NGP is to have a 5-inch organic LED display with Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, two cameras and two joysticks.

The new device succeeds Sony’s PlayStation Pro and PlayStation Progo portable gaming devices which have sold more than 65 million units worldwide. Also see our story on Sony PSP2 rumors

An analyst who was at the event in Tokyo where Kaz Hirai spoke, said that Sony’s NGP will probably cost between $230 and $350. He also said that Sony’s upcoming Xperia Arc PlayStation smartphone, which runs Android OS, will be a serious competitor to the iPhone in the gaming smartphone market. The third big company in this area is Microsoft with its Windows Phone 7 OS with Xbox Live integration.

sony ngp gaming device photo

Photo: Sony NGP gaming device

Sony’s NGP gaming device is expected to have a quad core processor clocked at 3.5GHz, with a graphics processing unit from Imagination Technologies and multiple motion sensors. This and other hardware to go with it is bound to make it an expensive device.

Nonetheless, Sony NGP sounds good on paper because it has a fast processor, accurate motion sensing with a three axis gyroscope and accelerometer, a front-facing video camera for video calls and a digital compass for navigation. Unlike other devices in its class, though, Sony’s NGP hand-held gaming device lacks a glassless 3D display, which Sony already has the technology for and uses for its Bravia TVs.

Sony’s competitors in the portable gaming market include Nintendo with its 3DS hand-held gaming device which costs $250 and has a glassless-3D display. Nintento has had the Wii and DS handheld devices as well. Apple’s iPod Touch, also a good portable gaming device is available starting $230.

Phil Kollar, an editor at news site Game Informer, told USAToday that Nintendo is likely to target the masses with its 3DS while Sony will go for high-end buyers and hardcore gaming enthusiasts and casual gamers with its gaming smartphone. Nintendo, meanwhile, isn’t in the phone business.

Nintendo earlier released a relatively inexpensive Wii system with motion controller. The device was cheaper than Sony’s PlayStation Move and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, and it was also the most popular of the three.

Speculation has it that Nintendo’s popularity is in large part due to cool games it has, which score over better technology that Sony might have. The games on Sony NGP are likely to include Call of Duty, Uncharted and LittleBigPlanet.

Sony’s NGP device is likely to have a flash memory unlike earlier PSPs which used disks. This will enable games to be downloaded directly to the device. However, Sony is likely to use a custom-made card slot so it’ll be tough to load games that aren’t approved by the company.

Because it now services multiple gaming platforms (puts up games, updates them, etc.) Sony recently also released PlayStation Suite, a way to publish NGP games for Android phones and vice-versa.

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