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Sony Debuts Vita Handheld, Apologizes For Hacks


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


PlayStation Vita

is 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

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

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

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