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PSP launch within 2004 'secure' - CTO

SCE's Masa Chatani also talks about the boot-up interface, load times, media playback and disc retrieval. Meanwhile, Nintendo slams the PSP's battery life.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

PlayStation Portable is very much on course for release in 2004, according to Sony Computer Entertainment chief technology officer Masa Chatani. Speaking to Famitsu this week, Chatani said that PSP would be out in Japan before the end of the year, with a worldwide launch in Q1 2005 - and reminded people that even the original PlayStation launch wasn't announced until a month prior to its December 94 ship-out.

"We made release within the year, and our plan to sell the PSP within the year is secure as well, so please be at ease," he told Famitsu. Analysts disagree though, focusing on the lack of a release date or even a price point and arguing that an early or even mid-2005 release is a far more likely prospect. Sony continues to claim otherwise, having demonstrated playable units for the first time at the Tokyo Game Show last month.

Meanwhile, Chatani also revealed a few technical details about the PSP. When booted up, the system will present users with an interface for managing the clock and save files, and a media player for playing MP3s and other media files stored on Memory Sticks, and you can return to this interface at any time by pressing the Home button. Even in-game - it'll just prompt you with a Yes/No command box.

The media player itself will apparently use the same Cross Media Bar (XMB) design as the multimedia PSX unit, and load times for booting up games are comparable to the PlayStation 2, Chatani told Famitsu. He also revealed that the process of ejecting discs will be similar to a MiniDisc player - the hatch will pop up a little way and you'll do the rest.

However Chatani did not comment on the other weighty question mark lingering over the PSP - battery life. This despite recent reports that Sony would expect developers to ensure their own titles could survive for more than a few hours by giving them battery emulation tools. Further adding insult to injury, Nintendo's charismatic Reggie Fils-Aime took a pop at the PSP from the podium at the DS press event in Seattle - one of the first times Nintendo has had a direct stab at the PSP, which it generally claims it does not consider a direct competitor.

"Let me tell you something," he yelled, characteristically. "Those little women at the Tokyo Game Show with those portable consoles strapped to them... What you didn't see is that those women were having to go recharge the batteries every two hours!"

"We have gone on the record to state that the Nintendo DS will have battery life comparable to the Game Boy Advance SP. Nowhere will you find any mention of the other machines power life. And you have to wonder why..."

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