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Nintendo responds to Sony PSP threat with new player

This town ain't big enough for the both of us

Nintendo plans to launch a new portable game player later this year, according to a company spokeswoman.

The move is likely to come at about the same time that Sony launches an assault on Nintendo's top position in the portable gaming sector with the release of its handheld PSP (PlayStation Portable) device.

Few details of the player, called Nintendo DS (short for Nintendo Double Screen), have been released. However, the Kyoto-based company said the machine will have dual screens, each around 3in (76.2mm) in size.

"The additional screen will expand the game experience and allow us to do things that have not been possible so far," the spokeswoman said, adding that the company will provide more details at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) event scheduled to take place in Los Angeles from 12 May to 14 May.

Nintendo's new portable games player adds weight to what was already expected to be a fierce battle between the company and console heavyweight Sony.

Sony, which entered the gaming business in 1994 and currently enjoys the top position in the console market, plans to launch its PSP in the fourth quarter of this year. Similar to Nintendo, Sony is keeping details of its new player a closely guarded secret, although it has released provisional specifications and an artists impression.

The specifications include a 4.5in (114.3mm) wide-screen display, 3D (three-dimensional) graphics, support for MPEG4 video and a USB2 port. 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, according to Sony.

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