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Walkman of 21st century

Sony unveils PSP mobile gaming pad

Sony has shown for the first time a design concept for its planned PSP, a portable game and multimedia terminal that the company is touting as the "Walkman of the 21st century".

The design, which was shown as an illustration, was of a sleek rectangular device with a wide-screen flat-panel display dominating the front. To the righthand side of the display are four control buttons for playing games while on the left is an up/down/left/right navigation control. A few other buttons, such as that for power, also had places on the front of the unit.

Ken Kutaragi, executive deputy president of Sony and head of its games unit showed the device, during a presentation at an investor conference in New York yesterday.

Sony announced plans for the PSP during the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) show in Los Angeles in May this year, although it included few details of the device at the time. The company also hasn't been explicit about what PSP stands for, although it's often assumed to be PlayStation Portable.

At E3, Sony said the PSP will include a 4.5in (11.4cm), wide-screen TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) with a resolution of 480x272 pixels, 3D graphics, support for Mpeg-4 video and a USB 2.0 port. It also said the player will use a new media format called UMD, or Universal Media Disc. The 60mm optical discs will be encased in a cartridge and hold up to 1.8GB of data, the company said.

Kutaragi didn't offer anything new in terms of specifications for the PSP, but did provide a better idea of when it will launch.

"To take advantage of the strong entertainment business unit within the Sony group, I am working closely with Howard [Stringer, chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Corporation of America] to ensure that a wealth of entertainment content will be available worldwide at the PSP's launch during the holiday season of 2004," he said. "And the details of the final design will be announced later."

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