Nintendo, Sony to unveil new handheld devices

IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

The eyes of a million teenagers will likely be looking towards Los Angeles this week as two of the most anticipated product launches in the game industry this year take place at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

The show, which begins on Tuesday, will see Nintendo Co. Ltd. unveil the successor to its popular and market-leading GameBoy handheld gaming device and Sony Corp. launch its assault on Nintendo's lead with the unveiling of its PSP handheld device.

The launches are anxiously awaited by many, partly because the coming battle between the two companies is likely to characterize the year-end selling period and partly because relatively little is known about the devices.

Sony first disclosed plans for its handheld device, the PSP, at E3 last year and has since released a string of preliminary specifications and a design prototype image.

According to those preliminary specifications, it will have a 4.5-inch (11.4-centimeter), wide-screen TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) with a resolution of 480 by 272 pixels, 3D (three-dimensional) graphics, support for MPEG4 video and a USB 2.0 port. Sony also said the player will use a new media format called UMD, or Universal Media Disc. The 60-millimeter optical discs will be encased in a cartridge and hold up to 1.8 GB of data.

Later in the year the company said it would ship the PSP worldwide during the year-end holiday season however that schedule has subsequently slipped. In February this year Sony said it would only ship in Japan during 2004 and see release in other markets in 2005.

If little information is known about the PSP, even less is known about Nintendo DS device. The Kyoto-based company disclosed its work on a new platform in January this year and revealed nothing but a few technical details.

The first is that the Nintendo DS will have two displays. The 'DS' in the name stands for double screen and each will be a 3-inch (76.2 millimeters) TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) panel, it said.

"The additional screen will expand the game experience and allow us to do things that have not been possible so far," a Nintendo spokeswoman said in January. In a soccer game, for example, users might be able to view the entire playing field on one screen and get a close up of a single player on the other.

The only other piece of information released at the time is that Nintendo is planning to have more than one processor and "up to" 128 MB of memory.

The world will get its first look at both devices when E3 opens its doors this week.

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