Sony have unveiled the first pictures and details of its planned PlayStation 3, showing off a machine with enormous horsepower, stunning graphics and a slew of multimedia elements.
Due in about a year [Spring 2006], the PlayStation 3 boasts an engine 35 times more powerful than the PlayStation 2, according to Sony. It will support up to seven wireless controllers and has outputs for two high-definition televisions (HDTVs).
Sony did not announce whether it plans to launch the system first in Japan, then months later in North America, as has been its practice with previous PlayStations, or simultaneously throughout the world.
"All of us at Sony Computer Entertainment have been waiting a long time for this moment," Kaz Hirai, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said at a news conference.
"We have always attempted to do things differently. Our vision has taken us to unprecedented levels of success and innovation. Just keeping up with conventional technology is not enough for us."
The PS3 will be fully "backward compatible," playing all existing PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games. It will come equipped with a Blu-Ray DVD drive and support the sharpest format for HDTV, 1080p.
Wireless controllers using Bluetooth technology will be standard. Sony said the system will support up to seven simultaneous players, a significant boost from the four standard today.
Additionally, PSP owners will be able to use their handheld gaming device as either a controller or an additional screen, perhaps viewing tactical or statistical information that ties in with the game on your television.
Graphically, Sony showed a number of clips running on PlayStation 3 hardware, including "Devil May Cry," "Metal Gear Solid," "Gran Tursimo" and "Tekken" and had live interactive demos of several games, including Electronic Arts' "Fight Night: Round 3".
The PS3 will ship with a detachable 2.5-inch hard drive and will include slots for a number of consumer electronic digital storage devices, including Sony memory sticks, SD memory cards and compact flash cards.
In addition to playing games, it will allow users to access digital video and audio files, view digital pictures, offer video chat and allow users to access the Internet.
As with Microsoft's Xbox 360, online functionality will play an important role with the PS3. The system will ship with a built-in gigabit Ethernet port and can handle both types of wireless Internet access, 802.11b and 802.11g.
"PlayStation 3 truly is the system to be placed in the center of the living room in homes around the globe," said Ken Kutaragi, widely considered the father of the PlayStation. "The future is almost here with the PS3."