It’s been a pretty awesome day today, as more and more details about the Sony NGP have been crawling out of the woodwork. We’ve seen plenty of rumors, speculations, and lots of awesomeness as far as tech specs and upcoming software.
We’re collecting all the information we can find and putting it all here, into one convenient place for you, including specs, pictures, and every single detail available.
Also worth mentioning, Sony also announced some big news for anybody with an Android-powered phone or tablet. Playstation Suite will be an official store, maintained by Sony, with games designed specifically for Android. But that’s not all! Playstation Suite will not only have new, Sony-certified games developed for Android, but they will also be opening up to developers to make their own games available on Sony’s new market.
But wait! There’s more! Playstation Suite also will allow you to emulate original Playstation games on your Android handheld! Up for revisiting the original Silent Hill or Metal Gear Solid? Just take your phone out of your pocket and play!
Holy crap, this is some big news. After the cut, we’ll go into some more details on the NGP, which is easily the biggest of the big news Sony’s had to offer us lately!
- Screen size: 5 inches (Or 127 mm for our non-American friends), at a 16:9 ratio
- Screen resolution: 960 x 544 pixels
- Display type: OLED display, which will offer a very impressive picture (16 million colors) with a wide viewing angle, and won’t hurt battery life as much as a standard LCD display
- CPU: ARM cortex A9 quad-core processor; no word on speed just yet
- GPU: SGX543MP4+, which will deliver some massively impressive graphics (this GPU easily blows every other handheld device you’ve ever seen out of the water)
- Input: Mostly the same as the PSP, however the analog nub has been replaced with two analog sticks
- Communications: 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
- That beautiful 5-inch OLED display will also be capable of touchscreen input
- Rear-mounted touchpad, possibly an alternative to the analog sticks (which would greatly improve FPS gaming)
- GPS for location-aware content
- Compass (though this is likely integrated with the GPS device)
- Six-axis gyroscope/accelerometer for motion-controlled input
- Flash-based cartridges for games, abandoning the god-awful UMD format
- Front-facing and rear-facing cameras and microphones
- 3G radio, which will allow for downloading DLC anywhere you have cell phone reception, access LiveArea (more on this in a bit), and possibly even allow for mobile multiplayer gaming
- Bluetooth radio, which would mean you can use a wider range of headsets for gaming, instead of being limited to a proprietary Sony headset that you’d need for the original PSP
This is a surprising amount of new hardware being added to the PSP’s successor. I don’t think it’s physically possible to cram any more technology into a device that will fit in your pocket. But speaking of your pockets…
Size Does Matter
Let’s talk about size for a moment. The NGP has a LOT of stuff in it. As such, it’s expected to be a fairly large device. The demo units that Sony had at their meeting were a tiny bit longer than the PSP 3000 (the latest of the “standard” PSPs, not including the PSP Go) by almost half an inch in length. However, the photos that we’ve seen of these demo units appear to be very thick. I’d go so far as to say it looks almost thicker than the PSP 1000 (the first-generation PSP, commonly referred to as a “phat PSP”).
This could mean that the demo units were made mainly for the sake of packing the hardware into a case that Sony could display to the crowds, or it could mean that the amount of technology inside the NGP simply is too large for a device the size of a normal PSP.
But, technology is always evolving. You already knew this, I’m sure. I mean, reach into your pocket and pull out your phone. That phone, which fits in your hand, has exponentially more processing power than a computer that used to take up an entire wing of a large office building.
Just like the PSP 2000, I’m sure that after a couple years Sony will be able to compress that hardware down even further, into a much slimmer device. As it stands right now, however, the NGP does not look like something I’ll be sticking in my pocket comfortably.
One important factor to keep in mind with any handheld device is going to be the battery life. While Nintendo appears to be falling short in this regard, Sony has high hopes for the NGP’s ability to be battery-friendly. Sony claims that the battery life of the NGP will be comparable with the PSP 3000′s battery, so we’re looking at 4-6 hours of gameplay on one charge. One Sony official has actually said that the NGP runs better than the PSP 3000. However, this statement only applies to Sony’s current build of the NGP, which is still heavily under development. The final product may not match this claim.
While it may seem odd that a device with so much in it would be able to last that long, Sony owes a lot of that to their choice in using an OLED display. OLED displays use a lot less battery power than an LCD display, and they offer a crisper picture than LCD. This is why the smartphone industry has already begun using OLED and AMOLED displays for the past couple years. They’re beautiful displays and are incredibly battery-friendly. This one single item can easily be what allows the NGP to have a decent battery life, even with the extra tech behind it.
The NGP is going to feature Sony’s new service, LiveArea. LiveArea appears to be very much like Playstation Network on the PS3, however it’s going to boast a lot more location-aware features, such as nearby gamers (so you can see when a challenger approaches), nearby events (such as a tournament for a fighting game you play on your NGP), and maybe even specific DLC items, only available through special events like E3, TGS, etc.
How LiveArea will operate with PSN is still a bit of a mystery. We’re not sure if it’s going to integrate with PSN, or replace it entirely.
So far we have eighty-two confirmed developers for the NGP, including names like Activision, Square-Enix, Climax, Rockstar, Gameloft, Ubisoft, High Voltage, 2K, Konami, SEGA, Dimps, Namco, Capcom, and lots, lots more.
This list is sure to grow, as well. We’ve got lots of big-name developers all showing interest in the NGP already, so it will come as no surprise when more follow suite.
If you want to see the full list, Kotaku was able to get their hands on all the names involved, and compiled the entire list into one page, organized by region.
This is one thing Sony does not want to talk about yet, and probably with good reason. The NGP is going to be a powerhouse, capable of doing just about anything your PS3 can. As such, it should come to no surprise that it’s probably going to be crazy-expensive. GameStop was providing estimates of $999.99 USD. Considering the amount of technology in the NGP, one grand sounds about accurate.
However, Sony knows what they’re doing. They know that nobody in their right mind is going to drop a thousand dollars on a handheld device. What we will probably end up seeing is a price that will be more competitive with the Nintendo 3DS’ $250 price range. The NGP may be a loss leader for Sony, hoping that they’ll make more money off the games than they will for the device.
This is a feasible model for Sony right now, since they’re switching to flash-based storage for the physical games (which is significantly cheaper to produce than UMDs), and will most likely also rely heavily on digital downloads of games from the Playstation Network, which costs mere pennies to distribute.
Sony has not announced an official release date yet, however they did say that it should be available in time for the 2011 holiday season. If GameStop is right in their pricing predictions, this should give you plenty of time to save up and sell all of your belongings to buy one.
So far, Sony hasn’t confirmed any launch titles, however they did show a lot of tech demos of games like Little Big Planet, WipeOut, Killzone, Monster Hunter, Uncharted, and a few others. We’ll probably see these as launch titles, or at the very least, they’ll be pretty early releases.
Also worth mentioning, however, all of your digitally-downloaded games from your PSP or PSP Go will be fully compatible with the NGP.
That’s about all we’ve got so far on Sony’s latest gadget. We’ll surely be hearing a lot more about the NGP this summer at E3 2011, where The Gaming Vault will hopefully have a presence.
My impressions on the NGP are similar to how I viewed the PSP when it first launched in 2005. I thought “There’s no way I would pay that much money for something that does all this extra crap I’ll never use, like web browsing, music, movies, etc”. Today, I’m thinking “There’s no way I would pay that much money for something that does all this extra crap I’ll never use, like GPS, motion controls, etc”.
However, the PSP managed to quickly change my mind, and I accepted it as a crazy-powerful device that I catch myself playing more often than my DS lately.
One gripe I have with the design of the demo unit is that the front-facing camera is positioned about a millimeter away from the right thumb buttons. This seems like it will be far too easy to obscure the image if you’re playing any camera-based games, or video chatting (which may be possible through Skype, which previous PSPs had built-in; although Sony refused to comment on any integration with Skype in the NGP). Though, this is just a demo unit which is surely to change.
Ideally, I’d love to see the camera top/center, right above the display. Very little chance of blocking the view, and it’s going to get a more centered image of your face.
Another design issue that worries me is the fact that the NGP is no longer using the PSP’s analog nub, but rather using actual analog sticks. While a stick is going to feel so much more natural than a nub, there’s an immediate problem of fitting the NGP into your pocket with these analog sticks pointing out. Surely they would end up catching on your pocket and getting severely bent.
One solution I see to this is possibly having the analog sticks retract into the device. Possibly if you press down on the stick, it clicks out or into the socket, allowing for a smoother surface that is less likely to become damaged by your pants.
One last thing that kind of bothers me is the placement of the volume buttons. They’re on the top of the device in this demo unit, which doesn’t seem like a comfortable location to quickly adjust the volume on the fly. But that’s one design issue that I think I’d be able to live with, since I mostly play my PSP with headphones on, anyway.
After all is said in done, I think that the NGP is going to be a very solid system and will definitely be giving Nintendo a run for its money this time around. However, I think that the biggest deciding factor is going to be the retail price of the device. If GameStop’s $999.99 estimations are anywhere near accurate, then Nintendo may end up reigning supreme commander of the handheld realm.
To be quite honest, I think Sony is going to have to drop their prices down to $300, at most, if they expect to be any real competition with Nintendo’s 3DS. I can’t imagine many people willing to drop any more than $300 on a handheld system, regardless of how many awesome technological achievements it conquers.
I’ve been scouring around for all the best photos of the NGP I could find. Here’s some hands-on photos of Sony’s latest and greatest, as well as several official Sony renders.