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PSP2 unveiled: Next Generation Portable

NGP has dual sticks, front/rear touch, 3G.

Sony Computer Entertainment kingpin Kaz Hirai has unveiled the company's next generation portable device at a conference in Tokyo today – and it's currently codenamed NGP.

That stands for Next Generation Portable, helpfully, and Hirai promised it would include a revolutionary control system, location-based entertainment, social features and augmented reality features.

NGP is due out this "holiday season", Hirai announced.

NGP includes a five-inch OLED display, dual analogue sticks, d-pad and face buttons, front and rear touch pads, 3G and Wi-Fi integration, Sixaxis motion control and a three-axis electronic compass. There are even front and rear cameras "suitable for gameplay".

The thumb sticks are described as "micro analogue sticks", which are raised ala DualShock, rather than PSP-style nubs. There are also shoulder buttons, start/select and a PS button evident in the units shown in Tokyo.

The rear touch panel is exactly the same size as the five-inch screen, so your finger's location will be replicated exactly on the screen. Using the front and rear panels in concert, it's possible to "pinch", which has useful gameplay applications.

Sony said the screen resolution would be four times that of the original PlayStation Portable, which displayed images at 480x272, for the record. It promises a wide viewing angle "perfect for users who like to lie down while playing games".

Sony's NGP.

Presumably NGP will do a lot of business with PlayStation Store, but it does use what's called a "new game medium", what Sony calls a small flash memory based card dedicated for NGP software titles.

"Taking advantage of the flash memory feature, this innovative card can store the full software titles plus add-on game content or the game save data directly on to the card," Sony revealed. "By adopting flash memory based card, SCE will be able to provide game cards with higher capacity in the future, allowing developers to store more game data to deliver rich and immersive games."

Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida said that the advantages of NGP were PlayStation 3-quality visuals, a high-quality screen, dual analogue sticks and a combination of traditional control with motion and touch panels.

NGP will also include compatibility with PlayStation Suite – an Android-based store for PlayStation content announced earlier.

Hirai said that while Sony was looking to offer cross-platform experiences – hence the collusion with Android – NGP was a necessary component of the format holder's drive to offer "a captivating ultimate portable gaming experience".

More to follow as the conference continues. Check out our PlayStation Meeting PSP2 live blog for up to the minute reports.