Sony recently announced the successor to the PSP at a press event in Tokyo. Its codename is NGP which stands for “Next Generation Portable.” Most of the details we wanted were divulged except pricing and exact release date(Holiday 2011 is all we were told). Sony is probably waiting to guage public reaction to the device before a price point is chosen. If Sony learned its lesson from the launch of the PS3, the price probably won’t be much of a factor as long as people understand what the feature set is and how Sony and other game developers plan to utilize it. Here are some of its most important features:
- Dual thumbsticks: Sony listened to the gamers’ outcry that PSP lacked a second analog nub. The best part is they ditched the “nubs” all together and went with two actual thumbsticks. According to reports, these sticks feel nearly as good and responsive as the Dualshock 3 sticks.
- Wi-Fi and/or 3G: The NGP will feature both, however, it’s not clear if there will be separate models with either or both. It is also not known if Sony will subsidize the 3G a la Amazon’s Kindle or if a 3G plan will be required. Another issue is that 3G does offer speeds fast enough to reliably play an action game online so maybe 4G will be an option by the time the NGP ships.
- 5″ OLED multi-touch screen: This is a big, beautiful screen. Yes, you won’t be able to see it well in bright sunlight. Stop complaining and don’t play games in direct sunlight. This is an issue with all portable devices.
- 5″ rear multi-touch panel: This is perhaps the most interesting part of the device. If developers can use it properly there would be options to map button presses to the panel replicating a second pair of shoulder buttons. With touch on the front and back combined with the standard controller layout there will be crazy possibilities for control options.
- Front and rear facing cameras: Video chat? Alternate reality games? The possibilites are many.
- New UI replaces the XMB (Cross Media Bar): LiveArea is the new, touch-based user interface that replaces the XMB on the new device. I love the XMB, but many people do not. LiveArea looks to be a prettier way accomplishing the same task.
- TROPHIES: Finally Trophies are confirmed for a handheld. Trophy whores everywhere (including me) are jumping for joy. This is especially awesome combined with the idea that it is now possible to take actual PS3 games on the go with the NGP.
With games already in development from Sony franchises such as Uncharted, Killzone, Resistance, and Little Big Planet as well as multiple third party developers, the NGP seems to have a bright future. I will be right there on day one. Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think about NGP.