Sony PSP2 Announcement (Well…NGP for now)

Announcement of Sony PSP2 (or is it NGP…)

As many surmised, Sony today announced not just the oft-rumored PlayStation Android application (hmm, no iOS or WP7 support? Clever move, Sony, and telling. We know who’s in your sights!) but also the Sony PSP2, which they’re currently referring to as “NGP”–short for Next Generation Portable.  We learned a bit about the Sony NGP.

Not too much is really surprising about the device (except that almost all the rumors turned out to be true), as it packs a quad core ARM9 processor and a quad core PowerVR GPU along with what will no doubt be a gorgeous OLED screen with a nice resolution of 960×544.

But what’s most interesting about PSP2 is that it seems Sony’s finally eschewed development of proprietary processors and graphics engines in favor of industry standard components. The ARM9 will appear in numerous devices launching this year and next (indeed, nVidia’s Tegra 3 is based around a quad core ARM9), making it a good choice for any new portable device, especially given that they’re aiming to launch the PlayStation Suite across numerous platforms including Android cell phones and tablets.

Additionally, the PSP2 will feature a PowerVR GPU that’s almost 2 years old now (in its single and dual core variants), and will be rapidly on the way to its third birthday by the time the device launches later this year (see Imagination Tech’s SGX543MP announcement in early 2009.) That’s perfectly fine, of course–the PowerVR GPU and ARM9 CPU are plenty powerful to generate visuals on par with PS3 games, by Sony’s own admission (it appears that PSP2 will, like its predecessor, be a platform destined for a lot of ported games).

Last but not least, the device will use Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (3.0 is already out), also a little older than “cutting edge.” The big areas of change appear to be in control (Sony’s finally giving fans the dual analog sticks we’ve been clamoring for during the last 5 years), with both a Capacitive touch screen and a capacitive back for the device as input options. Another page they’ve taken from Nintendo’s playbook is in the distribution of games- Sony PSP2 will abandon UMD to the ashpile of history in favor of flash memory (which anyone with an ounce of engineering comprehension has said all along was the smart way to go, anyway.)

So, Sony’s announcements are telling in a number of ways, particularly in the lessons they’ve learned from PS3’s disastrous launch, PSP’s failure to even come close to dethroning Nintendo’s portables, and the mistake of trying to bludgeon existing processor design companies to death by sheer force of will.

Now, as long as Sony can keep the price of the Sony PSP2 down to a reasonable level–and god help Nintendo if they can launch it for less than the 3DS–we may just have an interesting fight on our hands. And more importantly, an interesting portable games machine.

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