Sony officially announced the successor to the PSP back in January 2011. Initially called PSP2, codenamed NGP (Next Generation Portable) and now possibly called Vita, there’s been a slow but steady trickle of information released over the last few months. Since the announcement I’ve been frantically gathering NGP news tidbits to my bosom like Crackdown orbs, with nary an achievement in sight, just for you lovely people.
Here is everything we know so far.
* Multi-touch 5-inch organic light emitting display (OLED) as the front display
* Multi-touch pad on the rear of the device
* Dual analog sticks
* Two cameras (front and rear)
* Software titles on small, dedicated flash memory-based cards
* Three motion sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass
* Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity
* PlayStation Network access, including ““LiveArea™”, “Near” and “Activity” log features Trophy Support
* NGP will be able to play PSP titles, minis, PS one classics, video and comics from the PlayStation Store.
External Dimensions: Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth) (tentative, excludes largest projection)
Screen: 5 inches (16:9), 960 x 544, Approx. 16 million colors, OLED
Touchscreen: Multi-touch screen (capacitive type)
Rear touchpad: Multi-touch pad (capacitive type)
Cameras: Front camera; rear camera
Sound: Built-in stereo speakers; built-in microphone
Sensors: Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer); three-axis electronic compass
Location: Built-in GPS; Wi-Fi location service support
Keys/Switches: PS button; power button; directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left); action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square); shoulder buttons (Right/Left); right and left sticks; Start button; Select button; volume buttons (+/-)
Wireless communications: Mobile network connectivity (3G); IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1×1) (Wi-Fi) (Infrastructure mode/Ad-hoc mode); Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)
But what does that mean? Resolution-wise, it’s pretty much identical to the native rendering resolution of both Alan Wake on Xbox 360 and Call of Duty: Black Ops on PS3. Shrunk down to a five-inch OLED screen, the impression will be very much of a high-definition experience. The resolution itself is ballpark with iPhone 4’s Retina display (which weighs in at 960×640 mostly owing to a different aspect ratio), though obviously there is a considerable difference in the display’s surface area: the screen on Apple’s phone is a mere 3.5 inches, meaning a higher pixel density.
Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney revealed that the quad-core GPU setup was four times as powerful as the current mobile platforms. Bear in mind that the iPad, running what is now an outdated PowerVR SGX535, managed to run Infinity Blade fairly well at 1024×768 (albeit with some compromises compared to the iPhone 4 version), and you can begin to get some idea of the leap in power NGP represents.
In terms of power, Sony said that the NGP sits about halfway between that of the PSP and PS3, playing down previous claims that it’s as powerful as the PS3 itself.
The device uses a new game medium tentatively dubbed the “NVG Card” – a small flash memory based card dedicated for NGP software titles.
The new format will come in two storage capacities, 2GBs and 4GBs, which Sony says will be used for small and large NGP games, respectively. The smaller card is likely to support more casual titles, while the 4GB card will store more graphically intensive titles.
Interestingly, the cards themselves will reserve 5- to 10-percent of their total storage space for save data, game patches, and other updates, which will be less taxing to the NGP’s internal storage and make continuing progress from one device to another easier.
The 4GB format is a little under half the total disc space used by the average PS3 game, which accounts for just about 9GBs of data.
While Sony has not mentioned an internal flash memory component of the NGP, SCE Worldwide Studios head Shuhei Yoshida revealed to Game Informer that the device will feature “two slots” for memory cards; one for the new game card format (which Yoshida confirmed would be proprietary — not SD) and a second port for additional storage.
Andrew House (SCEE): One thing we learnt from PSP, is that we want to have simultaneous delivery in digital and physical for NGP. Just to clarify that, all games that appear physically will be made available digitally. Not necessarily all games have to be made available physically.
Sony’s NGP will offer full backwards compatibility with the PlayStation Network’s library of PSP games, and will offer an optimized experience for each one.
PSP games played with the NGP will be smoothed and upscaled, and the NGP’s dual analogue sticks will also be supported.PSP games are run via a software emulator within the NGP, and the upscaling can be toggled on and off by the player.
Software Franchises shown or talked about at PlayStation Meeting 2011 (titles are not final)
* Call of Duty
* Little Deviants
* Hot Shots Golf
* Reality Fighters
* Gravity Daze
* Smart As
* Hustle Kings
LiveArea is a “game-oriented communication platform,” according to Sony. In other words, it’s the device’s touch-controlled user interface featuring access to the PlayStation Store, Trophies, PSN friends, messaging, the browser, and other applications. It also includes the ‘Near’ application which makes use of the device’s GPS functionality. It tracks your location, and makes an ongoing map of where you’ve been. Near connects with PSN, and finds out what’s popular among other users where you are right now, as well as what other people nearby are playing. You can even buy games right within that interface.
According to the March 2011 issue of Famitsu, Sony is looking how they can link the NGP to their ‘Second Life’-like service, Home. The news was put in an article on the 1.5 update. Next to that it also states Home will get a speed increase. A better cooperation with publishers on new projects and games developed “in cooperation with players” are also planned.
Multiple versions of the NGP will launch, each with Wi-Fi capability. Only one, however, will also feature 3G.
Sony is currently “working hard” on 3G partnerships. Andrew House (SCEE) confirmed there will be some cost to the user for 3G services.
While showing PlayStation 3 exclusive Metal Gear Solid 4 running on NGP, game developer legend Hideo Kojima talked about cloud computing.
“When he launched Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on PSP he dreamed of a cloud computing future, and that game was an experiment for it. “NGP allows this cloud computing,” he said, cryptically.
“What I’d like to realise is playing on your PS3, and when you go out, you put the game on your NGP, and when you come back home, you can once again use your PS3 and large screen TV.
“This dream is going to come true in the near future. And right now, I’m working on this project of the dream. I’m sorry, I can’t reveal this now. But we’d like to present what we’re doing at E3.”
Sony has confirmed that users will be able to access PlayStation Store from both 3G network and Wi-Fi, which can be chosen depending on the network environments or the volume of content. Existing PSN IDs will be used on NGP.
SCEE boss Andrew House – “I can’t put a ballpark on it in terms of figures, but what I would say is that we will shoot for an affordable price that’s appropriate for the handheld gaming space” And it will definitely be less than $599
According to Famitsu, most retailers in Japan believe NGP will cost below 35,000 yen (roughly $430) and most gamers there are hoping for a sub-30,000 ($360), with their preferred price being around 25,000 yen ($300).
What We Don’t Know:
* The release date. (Launched in “one region” Holiday 2011 – this is probably Japan – source)
* Is there HDMI support? (as SCEE confirmed there is ‘no video output feature’)
* Clock speeds of the CPU/GPU
* Onboard memory
And now for some games: