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Sony PSX is a disappointment

Gaming device not all it could be

Electronics giant Sony has dropped several features from its upcoming PSX, a product the company describes as one of its most important this year, because it has not been able to complete development in time for the year-end sales period.

The PSX is Sony's first attempt at tying the world of consumer electronics and games together and combines a hard disk drive video recorder, DVD recorder, music player, photoviewer and PlayStation2 games console in a single box.

A prototype of the product was displayed at the Ceatec 2003 electronics show in Tokyo in October this year and Sony revealed the PSX specifications for the first time at the show after announcing general plans for the product in the first half of this year.

Last week it said it will launch the product in Japan on 13 December and again published specifications, although there are several major differences between those disclosed in October and those announced last week.

Gone from the latest specifications is the ability to play back DVD+RW discs, read CD-R data discs (although audio CDs recorded on CD-R discs are supported), display TIF and GIF format images, display movies taken with Sony's Cybershot digital still cameras and play MP3 files.

Copying video files from the PSX's hard disk drive to DVD discs has also been slowed down, from 24- to 12-speed, and it cannot connect to the PlayStation BB online gaming service.

"We have changed the specification," said Taro Takamine, a spokesman for Sony in Tokyo. The features are gone for two reasons, he said; the first is to make the device easier to use.

Takamine cited the example of browsing digital images and said that entry-level users, at which the device is aimed, will find it easier if they don't have to make a selection between Jpeg, TIF and GIF formats.

The second reason is that development of some functions missed deadline and had to be left out.

"Also we are not able to complete testing of some formats before the holiday shopping season," he said. "Our priority is to launch before the year end."

When launched next week, the PSX will support DVD-R/RW writable media, DVD-Video, Audio CD and all PlayStation discs, as well as be able to display Jpeg-format images and read Atrac3 encoded music, which is a format developed by Sony and used in its MiniDisc players and some other digital audio products.

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