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Sony Debuts Vita Handheld, Apologizes For Hacks

6/07/2011 09:20:05 AM Eastern
UPDATED! Los Angeles - Sony Computer Entertainment America introduced its next-generation portable entertainment system, PlayStation Vita, during its E3 press conference here and apologized for the PlayStation Network outage.

The PlayStation Vitais a handheld gaming system that will be available in both Wi-Fi and 3G/Wi-Fi versions at the end of this year.

At the event Sony executive deputy president Kazuo Hirai introduced the Vita, which means "life" in Latin. AT&T will be the official carrier for the upcoming handset.

The Wi-Fi version will retail for $249 while the 3G/Wi-Fi model will be available for $299 and will be shipped in staggered launches at the end of the year.

Sony announced that 80 titles are in development from virtually every major game publisher, including Activision, Capcom and Electronic Arts.

Carrier AT&T, which will provide 3G service, declined to outline the 3G data plans that would be available and whether the plans would be prepaid, postpaid or both.

The Vita will enable online gaming between Vitas and between a Vita and a PlayStation3 console, but the precise form of online game play "will depend on the game and developers on how and what they want to take advantage of," a Sony spokesman told TWICE.

Users will also be able to engage in Wi-Fi/3G-enabled voice or text chat while playing games during online gaming, playing different games, or using such applications as the Internet browser. Wireless will also enable select titles to be played on the handset, saved to the cloud, and then rejoined via a PlayStation3.

Also via wireless, users could access information on games from Sony and third-party developers, and users could view an activity log of accomplishments from users who played the same game.

The wireless connections, combined with Wi-Fi location in the Wi-Fi model and GPS in the Wi-Fi/3G model, will also let users discover what games that other users in the vicinity are or were recently playing and share their game information. Other location-based gaming features include "gifting" in which a user accesses virtual game-related items that other users are using or have used in a geographic location.

Although the device has front- and rear-facing video cameras, Sony hasn't said whether it would offer video chat over Wi-Fi and 3G.

Sony also suggested that the Vita would not be the only handheld option for gamers, and announced the PlayStation Suite, which promises to deliver PlayStation content on select certified devices including Android handsets.

In other developments, Jack Tretton, president/CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), acknowledged and apologized for Sony's recent PlayStation Network outage that followed repeated hacks that compromised user's personal information.

While noting that it kept SCEA in the news, Tretton said that the company was working to rebuild consumer's confidence in the brand and the service.

"You are the lifeblood of the company," said Tretton, "I want to apologize to you personally."

Tretton further stressed that network activity is currently at 90 percent of what it was pre-outage, and this threat, "is something we don't take lightly. Connected devices are key to our future."

One key of this connection is beyond gaming, and Tretton noted that recent studies show that the Sony PlayStation3, which was introduced in 2006, is the leading device of Netflix usage for streaming content. Sony will add CinemaNow service to its PlayStation Network later this year to further provide PS3 owner's with even greater access to movies and TV.

Sony is also looking to expand its commitment to the PS3, and this fall will release a 24-inch 3D display for the North American, Japanese and European/PAL markets. This HD LCD flat-panel monitor will be a branded PlayStation 3D display, and support multiple 3D formats, including frame packing, top and bottom, and side by side, to give users various options for viewing 3D content. The monitor will also provide for a two-player mode where each player will see an individual, unique, full-screen image using the bundled 3D glasses.

The PlayStation monitor will include a single set of glasses and a six-foot HDMI cable and will retail for $499 this fall, while additional PS3 branded glasses will be available for $69.99.

Sony will also introduce multiple game-specific packages later this year, including a Sharp Shooter Resistance 3 bundle, which will include the PlayStation Move motion control camera, a copy of the upcoming game Resistance 3, a Move controller and a Sharp Shooter blaster control holder.

This bundle will be available for the holidays for $149. Sony also announced a package for the upcoming Paramount "Star Trek" movie tie-in, which will include downloadable prequel content via the PlayStation Network, as well as game bundle that will include a limited edition Star Trek Phaser controller for use with the PlayStation Move motion controller.

Sony also reported that the worldwide sales of the its PSP (PlayStation Portable) handheld gaming system have reached 70 million, since debuting in Japan at the end of 2004 and North American in March 2005. - Additional reporting by Joseph Palenchar

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