June 4, 2009 Sony has confirmed the rumors and officially announced the updated, slimmed down version of its PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld gaming console at E3. The new PSP go features a sliding form factor with the ability to play video and music when closed, or transform into a gaming console when the familiar PlayStation controls are revealed.
The PSP go is smaller and lighter than it’s PSP forebears, coming in at 5 x 0.65 x 2.7 inches (w x d x h) and weighing in at 5.6 ounces. To shed those unsightly ounces the PSP go has had to shrink the display down from 4.3-inches to a 3.8-inch 16:9 display and dropped the UMD (Universal Media Disc) drive altogether. Instead Sony has replaced it with 16GB of built-in flash memory, with storage space expandable via a Memory Stick Micro (M2) slot.
The lack of UMD support means that gamers are completely reliant on digital distribution to buy new games, so Sony is working to bulk up the content available through its online PlayStation Store (which the PSP go can now access directly using the built-in Wi-Fi). For those downloading content via a PC Sony is providing a new application called Media Go, which will manage PSP content including games, videos, photos, and music.
Sony will also include a new music application specific to the PSP that uses the “SensMe channels” music recommendation feature – a mood based music recommendation system already found in some Sony Walkman and mobile phone models, that categorizes music content into channels such as “Relax,” “Dance” and “Upbeat,” and recommends music playlists for users.
Adding Bluetooth capability to the PSP family for the first time provides support for headphones and headsets. The PSP go will also allow tethering to a Bluetooth-enabled 3G mobile phone, so that web browsing and online gaming can continue when Wi-Fi access isn’t available. It will also mean PS3 wireless controllers can be used for playing games or when watching video content on a TV via the PSP go’s analog video output.
The Sony PSP go will be available in black or white and is due to hit stores on October 1 for USD$249 and €249. Those in Japan, where the price is set at 26,800 yen, will have to wait until November 1.