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Everything You Should Know About Sony's PlayStation NGP

By Matthew Braga

At long last, Sony has unveiled its next generation handheld, known until now as the PSP2.

Ever since the lackluster reveal of the PSP Go, we knew Sony had greater things in store for portable gamers. Today, we caught a glimpse of that future — Sony's Next Generation Portable, or NGP, known until now as the PSP2. As far as hardware is concerned, the NGP is no slouch. With a 5" OLED touch screen, quad-core CPU,  3G radio, dual-analog joysticks, and front and rear touch-panels, it's clear Sony has some unique ideas in mind for the next-generation of portable gaming. 


 
the addition of dual "micro-analog" joysticks, developed specifically for the handheld, placed on either side of the 5" OLED screen. The screen itself will run at a native resolution of 960x544 (pixel-doubling over the resolution of the original PSP's 480x272 display), and sports what we assume to be a capacitive touch screen, with an identical panel placed on the rear of the device as well.  
 
Inside, the NGP has the same gyroscopic sensor and accelerometer as found in the PlayStation Move, enabling full SIXAXIS-style motion controls. Rounding things out are front and rear-facing cameras, a microphone, and new, flash-based media for content delivery, similar in size to what you'd find for the Nintendo DS. It should go without saying that UMD will not be supported

3G connectivity, as well as location-based GPS tracking. Sony plans to use the cellular network for always-on connectivity to the PlayStation Network, which we assume includes limited app/game purchases, though it's unclear what sort of multiplayer gaming will be possible over 3G, if any.  Supported carriers and pricing were not announced. 
 
Uncharted, for example, requires the player to move their fingers across the NGP's rear touch panel as if he or she were actually climbing a vine or rope. Another segment asked players to trace a climbing path for protagonist Nathan Drake on the OLED touchscreen, which he proceeded to follow. However, one of the more unique demonstrations required the player to pinch both the front and rear panels simultaneously — just one of the NGP's new "touch, grab, trace, push and pull" gestures. 
 
Other games on display included Killzone, Resistance, Lost Planet 2, and Hot Shots Golf, among others. What's encouraging is that Sony repeatedly referred to the handheld as a "graphical rival to that of the PS3," thanks in part to the quad-core GPU within. While most of those in attendance — particularly the folks at Engadget, 1Up and IGN — didn't quite agree, the general consensus is that these are some of the best looking portable games we've seen yet. Even, Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 4 demo — the same code as rendered on the PS3, apparently — looked exceptional, we're told (even though it was running at 20FPS). What we still don't know, however, is how the NGP will perform in terms of battery life. All that power comes at a price, and either there's a particularly beefy set of cells inside, or you'll be running for the nearest outlet a lot sooner than planned.
 
CPUARM® Cortex™-A9 core (4 core)
GPUSGX543MP4+
External
Dimensions
Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth) (tentative, excludes largest projection)
Rear touch padMulti touch pad (capacitive type)
CamerasFront camera, Rear camera
SoundBuilt-in stereo speakers
Built-in microphone
SensorsSix-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), Three-axis electronic compass
LocationBuilt-in GPS
Wi-Fi location service support
Keys / SwitchesPS button
Power button
Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left)
Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square)
Shoulder buttons (Right/Left)
Right stick, Left stick
START button, SELECT button
Volume buttons (+/-)
Wireless
communications
Mobile network connectivity (3G)
IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1x1)(Wi-Fi) (Infrastructure mode/Ad-hoc mode)
Bluetooth® 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)
 
But as impressive as the technology inside may be, it will undoubtedly come at a price — one that Sony has yet to reveal. Considering most $600 smart phones don't even come with this much technology built-in, we can only cringe at the thought of Sony's eventual retail price. We anticipate a subsidized price with annual contract for the 3G connection. But perhaps more importantly, is this the sort of device consumers will want? The likes of Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja have shown that even the simplest of mobile games can pull impressive sales, but Sony is betting the complete opposite; this is the anti-iPhone, if you will. The NGP is, instead, a graphics-heavy handheld that panders to a hardcore market, with the intent of doing everything the iPhone — and arguably, the 3DS — don't. That's a gamble, but if the number developers onboard are any indication, it's one Sony is only too prepared to take.  
 
Will the NGP be your next gaming handheld, or will you hedge your bets with the 3DS? Is this the PSP successor you've been waiting for? Let us know below!