Sony Corp. unveiled its new PlayStation Portable in the United States for the first time Wednesday, signaling an intensifying battle with Nintendo Co. to rule the burgeoning handheld video game market.
The PSP debut was held in Las Vegas on the eve of the International Consumer Electronics Show, an annual showcase of new products and technologies.
Sony did not announce U.S. pricing or availability for the PSP, but company executives said it will be in North American stores sometime in March. Sony has already sold about a half million PSPs in Japan, where it went on sale last month for about $190.
The rectangular, black plastic PSP weighs about 10 ounces and boasts wireless functions for multiplayer games. It also can play digital music and movies on its 4.3-inch color display, using a proprietary 1.8 gigabyte format called Universal Media Disc.
The PSP faces a firmly entrenched rival in Nintendo Co. Nintendo currently controls about 98 percent of the handheld video game market thanks to its successful line of Game Boy portables, NPD Group analyst Richard Ow said.
Its newest product, the $150 Nintendo DS, features dual color screens, one of them touch-sensitive, as well as built-in wireless.
The DS was among the must-have Christmas gadgets, with 1.5 million sold worldwide since its release in late November. Nintendo said the DS represents an entirely new product line and isn't a replacement for the aging Game Boy Advance SP.
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