In a talk at the Game Developers Conference yesterday, David Coombes, platform research manager at Sony Computer Entertainment America, made it clear that the company's upcoming NGP will offer much better graphics than those of the current PlayStation Portable, but won't come close to matching the graphics of Sony's home console.
"Some people in the press have said, 'Wow, this thing could be as powerful as a PS3,'" Coombes said, according to a report in Kotaku. "Well, it's not going to run at 2GHz, because the battery would last five minutes...and it would probably set fire to your pants."
The NGP's graphical abilities will be "halfway" between those of Sony's PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation 3, Sony engineers said, according to Kotaku.
Though it might not live up to the high expectations some gamers have had, the NGP looks to be quite appealing on paper. It includes a 5-inch OLED display, which Sony says quadruples the resolution of the current-generation PSPs. In addition, the device comes with dual analog sticks and lets users connect to the Web via Wi-Fi or 3G. The platform will be capable of playing "PSP titles, minis, PS one classics, video, and comics from the PlayStation Store," Sony revealed on its blog after the NGP was announced.
The NGP is being looked at by some as a potential savior for Sony's ailing mobile business.
Last week, the company announced that it was dropping the price of its PSP to $129.99, down from $169.99. It was the latest attempt on Sony's part to try to jump-start sales for a platform that, according to Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter's estimates, sold just 80,000 units in the U.S. last month, down 20 percent year-over-year.
In August, the last month NPD reported hardware sales figures, Sony sold just 79,400 PSP units. It was able to tally unit sales of 140,300 in August 2009.
When the NGP launches, it will also need to overcome an entrenched competitor in the Nintendo 3DS. That device, which will launch in the U.S. on March 27 for $249, lets users play 3D titles without the need for special glasses. By the end of March, Nintendo expects to sell 4 million 3DS units--1.5 million in Japan, where it launched this past weekend, and the rest elsewhere around the world.
Sony hasn't offered up any sales targets for the NGP. But it should be providing many more details on the device over the next few months, as the gadget's late 2011 release date inches closer.