Need to know – Sony PSP 2 (aka NGP)

Hot on the heels of Nintendo’s 3DS launch event, Sony’s ripped the covers off its next-gen PlayStation Portable, the PSP 2 (or NGP). In short, it’s on

What do you do when your flagging handheld console is being overtaken by smartphones (hello iPhone) and gimmicks (hello 3DS)? If you’re Sony, you take your existing PSP, rip out the insides, insert a supercharged processor and every conceivable sensor, top it off with a pair of cameras and a hi-res 5in OLED screen, call it the NGP and tell everyone it’ll be in their Christmas stockings this year.

Peaches and screen

Sony’s next-gen PSP, codenamed NGP (next-generation portable), is fronted by a 5in stretch of glass with a pixel count (960x544) that puts the last generation PSP to shame by a factor of four. It’s an OLED display, so expect massive contrast, superb viewing angles and low power consumption.

Driving force

Under the hood there’s a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 (think Tegra 2 at warp speed), coupled with blazing graphics to power that OLED display. But the PSP 2 NGP won’t rely on brute force alone – there’s also a grid of connections that includes 3G and Wi-Fi. Games will come on “a small flash memory based card” (read: high capacity new proprietary format, goodbye UMD).

Complete control

The backplate’s had more than a redesign, now toting multitouch gesture control, allowing gamers to touch, grab, trace, push and pull on top of button mashing. Sony claims the NGP is the first portable to have dual analogue sticks, replacing the nubs adorning the current PSP.

The social

LiveArea is Sony’s PSN for NGP, if you like. That is to say, it’s a place where gamers can get together for multiplayer action, social hijinks and global challenges. There’ll also be cloud-based trophy collection and DLC (downloadable content). The new consoles will automatically seek out gaming buddies via a service called Near that’ll hook you up with friends.

First-person shooter

A pair of cameras (resolution unspecified as yet) will grace the front and rear of the 2011-bound PSP. As well as the obvious photographic benefits, we’d expect to see plenty of AR gaming applications. Other sensors that could enhance gaming and other apps on the NGP include three(!) motion sensors, a gyroscope, accelerometer and compass.

Suite thing

Sony’s also announced the PlayStation Suite, a PlayStation Store for the mobile platform. Just for NGP? Nope – it’ll also have games for Android devices, such as the forthcoming PSP Phone, and including thrid-party tablets and phones. First up is a PSOne emulator, so phones with Android 2.3+ in their blood will soon be getting their Tekken on. “Perfect!