Nintendo and Sony Show Off Competing Portable Game Players

At the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) 2004 trade show this week in Los Angeles, video game giants Nintendo and Sony showed off competing visions for the future of portable gaming. Nintendo previewed its dual-screen Nintendo DS portable game player, which will ship later this summer, and Sony demonstrated a prototype of its forthcoming PlayStation Portable (PSP), which will play movies and video games on its widescreen display. Sony says the PSP will ship in the United States in spring 2005.

Nintendo, which currently owns the portable game market with its successful Game Boy line, says the clamshell-design Nintendo DS, which features identical screens on each half of its hinged body, will be hugely successful with the company's traditionally young user base and will be sold alongside Game Boy models in stores. The Nintendo DS will play Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles as well as its own unique software.

Predictably, Sony's portable entry, the PSP, is more entertainment oriented and doesn't just concentrate on games. A higher-end unit than the Nintendo DS, the PSP supports wireless networking and uses a new 2" optical disk format called Universal Media Disc that can store 1.8GB of data. Like Portable Media Centers, the PSP will play movies, music, and photo slide shows. However, some people are concerned about battery life and price, and the Nintendo DS will certainly beat Sony in these two crucial areas.

Neither company announced pricing or precise ship dates. However, analysts expect both products to be priced in the $150 to $300 range. In related news, in a bid to better compete with Microsoft and Nintendo, Sony lowered the price of its PlayStation 2 video game console to $149. Microsoft's Xbox also costs $149, and Nintendo sells its GameCube for $99.

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