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Cybernaut

Sony's next big thing

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Last week Sony finally presented the Playstation Portable 2, better known as the NGP for Next Generation Portable.

Coming just weeks after Nintendo's presentation of the 3DS it attracted a lot of attention - what was Nintendo's biggest competitor in the portable gaming market going to look like? And how could it possibly compete with glasses-free 3D?

History might seem to be against the NGP, but the Sony PSP did better than everyone thinks. They sold roughly 65 million of their handheld units, which is massive by any measure - unless it's a direct comparison with the 145 million Nintendo DS systems out in the wild.

There's no mistaking that both systems are moving on to the next generation. The 3DS will have a 3D display and a sharper resolution screen capable of watching 3D movies. It will have a front-facing camera and stereo cameras on the back capable of taking 3D pictures and video. It has an analog joystick. It has a massive library of 3D launch titles. It has a sale price of $250.

But the Sony NGP is no slouch. While there's no 3D, it is an extremely powerful little machine with a five-inch OLED touch screen, dual analog joysticks, a rear multi-touch touchpad, built-in stereo speakers and microphone (the earlier PSP models allowed for Skype, long before any phones carried the app), built-in GPS, a six-axis motion sensing system, front and rear cameras, 3G plus wireless plus bluetooth, a fast CPU and a dedicated graphics card. It's a powerhouse by any measure, and for hardcore gamers it has almost twice as many inputs as the 3DS.

Solving the UMD and media issue, Sony announced that you could download games through the Playstation network or purchase titles on flash cards. Presumably movies will also be available for purchase on flash as well -Sony has a huge library after all.

Sony also has a huge library of games, including many PS One and PS2 titles that will be made available now that the machine can handle the graphics. It's entirely possible that the NGP will be able to play PS3 games as well, it's that good.

The talk in the tech world is that phones are taking over as the top portable gaming devices, and there's some truth in that - when it comes to certain types of games. But touch screens and tilt sensors have their limits, and real gamers like the control that comes with a joystick and buttons (or, in the case of the NGP, dual joysticks that are a must have for first person shooters and sports games).

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