Handheld game devices and satellite radio receiver vie for gadget fans' attention with camcorders, big LCD TV, and more.
Martyn Williams, IDG News Service
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
The year is ending with great news for Japanese gamers, who are enjoying a new selection of consoles and games. But consumer electronics fans are finding some exciting new products, too, ranging from a 65-inch LCD TV to new camcorders and projectors and--in Asia only--a handheld receiver for satellite entertainment.
The biggest splashes are soon to come from Nintendo and Sony, which have released their next-generation portable game units. Nintendo has had an effective lock on the portable sector for the last couple of years with its Game Boy devices, which are still popular today: The latest sales rankings show them in top position and easily outselling consoles like Sony's PlayStation 2.
But Sony is challenging that lead. The company revolutionized the console sector about ten years ago with the introduction of the PlayStation, when Sony took on Nintendo and Sega, the major players at the time. The result? Sega exited the hardware business; Nintendo dropped to the number-two spot in Japan and even lower overseas.
In December, both Nintendo's Dual Screen and Sony's PlayStation Portable are scheduled to launch within a few days of each other in Japan. All eyes are on this sector of the market.
Also drawing interest is a new version of the PlayStation 2 (featured in last month's column), which just went on sale in Asia. It's much smaller than the first-generation version. Sony hopes it will attract new users and lure some current PlayStation 2 owners to switch to the smaller model.
Nintendo DS Handheld Gaming Device
Nintendo's $142 Dual Screen player is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in early December, a couple of weeks after its U.S. launch in late November. Both Nintendo and Sony previewed their handhelds in the spring.
The player's most distinctive feature is its dual 3-inch LCDs, one of which is touch-sensitive. Nintendo has embedded a microphone that can be used to feed information to games. Nintendo says 12 titles will be available at launch.
The DS includes a preinstalled chat program that allows users who are within range of a wireless LAN to communicate.
Sony PSP Handheld Gaming Device
The PlayStation Portable, which Sony has called its "Walkman of the 21st Century," promises to pack the power of a PlayStation 2 into a handheld device that will be priced at $188. That's about the same as the PlayStation 2 console.
The player has a 4.3-inch wide-screen display and supports IEEE 802.11b wireless connectivity. Its battery life is open to some speculation; when showcasing it at the Tokyo Game Show earlier this year, Sony said it would play for about 2 hours. But at the product announcement, Sony said the player would last between 4 and 5 hours on one charge.
Sony plans to launch the PSP in Japan in December; the company has said it intends to release the player in North America and Europe during its current fiscal year, which ends on March 31, 2005."
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