Sony Computer Entertainment has given details of the successor to the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and awarded it the codename NGP (Next Generation Portable).
It will feature a new interface that translates actions into inputs, location based entertainment (through GPS) and converge real and virtual worlds via augmented reality (AR).
The announcement came at the company's PlayStation Meeting 2011, a long overdue gathering in Tokyo to both celebrate the history of the brand, and to highlight new and interesting developments, including the new Android gaming platform PlayStation Suite (which will also work on the new console) and the NGP.
It looks similar to the original PSP, but features a 5-inch OLED touchscreen with a much-improved resolution of 960 x 544 (four times that of the current generation), four-core CPU (ARM CortexTM-A9) a much-improved GPU (SGX543MP4+) that allows for PS3-style graphics, a second dual analogue stick, and a Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer).
It's not particularly slim, with measurements of 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm, but the back has touch technology for an all new way to interact with gaming. Plus, there are cameras front and back. And a new micro-analogue control stick has been added on the right of the console.
Surprisingly, the NGP will still use physical media for games content, although SCE has long ditched the UMD. Instead, content will come on memory cards. They look a bit like SD cards, but will no doubt be proprietary - this is Sony after all.
In connectivity terms, it will feature both Wi-Fi, like its predecessor, as well as 3G and Bluetooth 2.1. The console also sports a new user interface called LiveArea that sees a number of badges on the screen for users to select.
The LiveArea UI is the gateway to games or the PlayStation Network Store for DLC.
"Touch, Grab, Trace, Push, Pull," is Sony's tagline.
There will also be in-game trophies to collect, naturally.
Although details on the games themselves are still thin on the ground, the company demoed a showreel at the event which included franchises such as: Hot Shots Golf, Gravity Daze, Killzone, Reality Fighters, Smart As, Broken, LBP, Little Deviants, WipEout, Resistance, and Uncharted.
Sony also offered a live demo of Uncharted with president of SCE Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida showing that you'll be able to use the touchscreen to jump, or the X button. As Drake is on a vine, you can rock the NGP back and forth to generate momentum.
And the back touchscreen, which is the same size as the front OLED panel, can be used in conjunction for incredibly complex actions, as it tracks your finger on the rear with action on the face. Exciting, if weird, stuff.
Currently, plans are to roll out the NGP from the holiday season (Christmas) this year, although that is likely to be Japan first, if history has told us anything.
What do you think? Is dedicated portable gaming still alive? Would you buy an NGP? Let us know in the comments below...