Previews

Mar. 1, 1999 - 10:00am
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Playstation 2

The fist official announcement about the second coming of the Playstation has been made, and an interesting bit of news it is. Here's the article from Nikkei as learned from The Nihon Keizai Shimbun:

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. plans to release the follow-up to its popular PlayStation video game system by March 2000. The successor to the world's biggest-selling 32-bit game console is to feature a microprocessor co-developed with Toshiba Corp. (6502) that provides motion picture-quality images, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun learned Sunday.

Likely to be called PlayStation 2, it will also be able to play movies and music stored on DVDs, allowing players to integrate various entertainment media into video games. While it will have data-processing capability several times more than that of a personal computer, the price will be kept below 100,000 yen, company officials said.

Development costs for the new 128-bit microprocessor -- which integrates image processing, memory and other functions onto a single chip -- reached nearly 10 billion yen. The chip is to have data-processing speed several times faster than that of Intel Corp.'s Pentium III.

The Sony unit seeks more than dominant market share in the video game console market with the chip, company officials said. "We take aim at the stranglehold on the chip/operating system market enjoyed by the Intel-Microsoft alliance," an executive said. He added that major battles will shift from spreadsheets, e-mail or other business-related areas to home entertainment systems fusing games, movies and music.

The new microprocessor will allow users to handle nearly 50 times more 3-D image data compared with Sega Enterprises Ltd.'s (7964) Dreamcast game console. It will also let users produce game characters comparable in image quality to Walt Disney's Toy Story.

While the PlayStation console employs CD-ROMs as its medium of data storage, its successor will adopt DVD-ROMs, boosting storage capacity by 7-8 times to 4.7 gigabytes.

(The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Monday morning edition)

BTW, 100,000 yen translates to approximately $800 US. While it won't be that high as that was in comparison to the standard market for PC's, I don't expect a system with DVD and a cutting edge processor like that to come in under $500. By going with a multi-functional console like this and losing their focus on the gaming market, Sony may be writing their own death sentence. Time will tell, but with a $300 difference in price, Sega can create an insurmountable lead in the next generation of consoles.

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