Sony NGP Details and Impressions

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Meet the Sony NGP. The device is sleek, sexy (for an oval), and pretty much everything you have come to want and expect out of a portable gaming machine, well…outside of glasses-less 3d anyway.

At last after so much speculation and rumor the next Sony Portable device has been introduced to the world, and it has been dubbed oddly enough the NGP (Next Generation Portable). I must admit I was Luke warm to all of the speculation around the handheld but this final product seems quite impressive.

The specs are currently listed as having a 4 core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU, and a 5 inch OLED capacitive touchscreen, 16 million colors, 960 × 544 pixels display. The GPU is a PowerVR SGX543MP4+. Now if all of that sounds like gobbledygook to you, well welcome to the party, but trust me when I say the end result looks positively impressive. We are talking about ps3 comparable graphics here, and it’s kind of frightening. One can only speculate how long this device will run on a charge, but I can’t imagine it could be too long. Especially if you factor in wireless internet play, of which there will be two separate skews sold of the device based on it, one featuring standard Wi-Fi capabilities, and the other utilizing 3G.

Answering the cries of gamers everywhere, the device has introduced an amazing and revolutionary change in design over the PSP, by introducing a second analog stick. Seriously though this is a godsend, after trying to control the camera in some games with the Cross Circle Square, and Triangle (Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker) I can’t wait for the ability to easily look around in games on that system without contorting my fingers into painful jigsaw formations.

However Painful Jigsaw fingers might remain in the NGP’s future as the device features both a touch screen, and a rear facing touch pad. The rear pad is the real innovation and the most confusing part of the device, as its control has been too compared as reaching through the back of the screen. It just sounds really awkward, and weird. I can’t help but imagine that some gamers out there are going to accidentally side their finger on it and kill themselves again, and again. Time will tell, but for now I have my doubts about it.

Sony is also incorporating six axis controls into the device for some reason, (as is Nintendo introducing tilt to 3ds) and I couldn’t be more confused about it. For any game other than like Mercury, it seems pointless on a hand held, and honestly I think it will only serve to make me look like a jack ass in public.

Modeling itself after the PSPgo and the iPod the device will feature a solely download based system using a flashed based storage format, eschewing the UMD media of the previous generation. This is as to be expected but it still leaves the uncomfortable abandonment of the UMD, as a lot of the best titles from the original PSP never came to the PSN for download (cough, cough, Kingdom Hearts Birth by sleep, cough)

Another huge step forward in this next generation portable over its older PSP brethren is its blatant abandonment the cross media bar in favor of a completely new set up. I hated the xmb, and still do, I think it’s annoying bland, and just a total basic package for a UI. However the new interface is basically a series of touchable bubbles, (Similar to apps on an iPhone) that promise to be easier to navigate than its horrid processor, as they are easier to pull up, and search through. It looks incredibly promising. Oh and did I mention the bubbles displayed at the press event also confirmed the presence of trophies? (Yea, now you can miss 3 bus stops trying to get trophies on the go. Yippy)

Comparing the system to the upcoming fight with the 3DS for market dominance. Sony’s second handheld is far and away the one I am more impressed with. The NGP unlike the 3ds feels like a legitimate improvement, and not just a machine taking the gimmick road. It truly feels like a palpable step forward into new and exciting territory, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. However like with the 3DS I don’t see myself purchasing it day one, both consoles need a killer app to get behind, but neither of them will have one at launch. Both Electronics giants seem more intent on ports rather than original IPs or original takes on existing franchises, so I am less than interested. It should be obvious so far that 3ds will probably win the holiday what with more time on the market, but anything can happen.

Most of the things you heard about the NGP is true, with dual analog sticks, front and rear facing cameras, and touch screen/pad, and ps3 comparable graphics, it seems like everything a gamer could want. It certainly seems more impressive than the 3ds in a lot of respects, but the big question is at what price?

Since the device’s revelation there has been massive speculation over the pricing o the device, with one GameStop page going as far as listing the device at a lofty Nine hundred and Ninety Nine dollars, before being pulled off the internet. No one knows for sure, and Sony is staying silent on the matter, outside of saying the device will be “Affordable”. I want to say that I can see this coming to us at a high price of $299, but that might be a little to cut throat for Sony’s pockets. Still Sony has a lot to compete with when it comes to a gamer’s wallet, with the recession and the decidedly less impressive 3DS on the horizon with an almost guaranteed lower price point with glasses-less 3d, will gamers even opt for NGP? What about the big leagues will the NGP come even close to competing with the iPhone? (Spoilers. It won’t.)

The device is slated for a holiday 2011 release in Japan, and 2012 stateside. More details should arrive over the course of the year, so be sure to stick with WatchPlayRead for updates in the upcoming months.

*What do you guys think of the NGP? Do you think it will be affordable, fun, or worthwhile? Leave a comment below!
*I really hope this doesn’t suck and I can afford this.
*I hope they market it with the tagline “It won’t make you children go blind.”
*I forgot to mention Ovals are ugly Sony.

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