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Sony unveils PSX

Two versions, and... a lot of features.

As promised, Sony has chosen the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) in Tokyo to unveil the multimedia PSX console in detail. Due out in Japan before the end of the year, the PSX is a monstrous concoction of top-end audio/visual components that also happens to play PSone and PlayStation 2 games to boot - or at least that's how Sony plans to market it.

According to the platform holder, PSX will be available in two versions, one with a 160GB hard disk and one with a 250GB hard disk, and both will take advantage of a 24x DVD writer (with support for DVD-RW/DVD+RW), which can burn a one-hour TV programme to DVD in two and a half minutes. Easily distinguished by logo (the lower capacity model, designated DESR-5000, has a white PSX logo, while the DESR-7000 has a blue one), both will be able to record at six different quality settings, playback DVDs and CDs, and record and playback Sony's ATRAC3 mini-disc format. PSX will also support MP3 playback, though not recording options.

Although many will presumably plump for the 250GB model for the sake of those extra 90 gigs, even the lowly 160GB model sounds extremely capacious, managing 33 hours of recorded television at the highest quality setting and 204 hours at the lowest, while the larger model will manage 53 at high quality and 325 at low quality. That's about as much television as we watch in a year. With all that recording, it's probably a good thing that it can multi-task, recording stuff while the user watches TV or plays a game, even if said game uses the HDD itself.

Physically the PSX is very stylistic. It's obviously a lot larger than the PS2, and, as the first photos in May suggested, boasts a very clean look, with most of the connectivity junk on its backside. There will be a USB 1.1 port, memory stick input and two memory card slots on the front of the device, but even the controllers will be hooked into the back (although if you've bought one of these, we doubt that wireless controllers will be out of your budget), along with component video, S-video, D-terminal video, standard and optical (SPDIF) audio outputs. The PSX is expected to stand proudly atop AV cabinets, and has small legs on the underside (also useful for passing controller wires under the machine). We can also expect to see a built in 100MBps LAN port, but there's no word on Internet connectivity beyond firmware updates or PS2 Online titles.

Under the bonnet, apart from the hard disk and DVD writer, we can also expect the same processor that appears in the newest PS2s, combining the Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesiser onto one chip, along with a built-in tuner (good news for plasma screen owners) with ghost reduction capabilities, and the rest of the PS2 gubbins lurking quietly in the corner.

Although Sony did confirm to the huddled masses that PSX will reach the US and Europe next year, it released no solid date or pricing info. In Japan though, the two versions of the device (being marketed as an HDD/DVD recorder with integrated PlayStation 1/2) will retail for 79,800 yen (€615 / £440) and 99,800 yen (€770 / £545) respectively. It sounds like a lot, but in the growing HDD/DVD recorder market, it's actually quite competitive. Whether those features will be enough in a territory where the PS2 is currently available for just £139, however, remains to be seen.

You can take a look at the PSX as it was at CEATEC thanks to Watch Impress here.