As you may know, there have been rumors floating around about a new PlayStation Portable for months now. Dubbed either the PSP 2 or the PSP 4000, the new system, supposedly, will feature a large touch-screen that slides open to reveal PlayStation buttons and dual analog joysticks. Rumor has it you'll be able to buy one before Christmas. Opinions differ on whether it's an aesthetic upgrade of the original PSP or a fully new system.
According to PocketGamer, the slide-screen set-up will allow for both hardcore games, played with the controllers, and the casual style games one might play on iPhone. In place of UMD, the PSP 2 (or 4000) will feature downloads through the PlayStation Store.
Supposedly, the full specs and pricing will be officially unveiled at E3 this year.
Keep in mind: No one is "officially" sure the PlayStation Portable 2 or 4000 exists. I've heard the rumors from a number of sources, but remember last year, when many on the internet were reporting that Microsoft would reveal motion-sensing controllers for the 360? Other than some third-party sticks, it didn't really happen. If the PSP 2 is real, though, it raises an interesting question: Will the machine contain such advanced technology that the price will be too high? You'd have to figure Sony learned a lesson from the high launch price of the PlayStation 3, but maybe not. Maybe they're thinking that if someone will pay $250 for an iPhone, they'd pay something similar for a PSP 2. I think it's more likely that the new machine (if it exists!) is a touch-screen enabled upgrade of the PSP that will retail for around the current PSP price of $169. We shall hopefully see soon. (If I am right I will congratulate myself heartily.)
Either way, the PSP 2 has some pretty serious competition. On the one hand, the relatively cheap and very, very friendly Nintendo DS and DSi will continue to take a huge chunk of the market, and on the other, there's the iPhone. Apple's cell has emerged as a major player in the handheld game space, with big publishers getting serious about their iPhone apps and smaller developers staking their companies on Apple's phone, plus, iPhone has a huge advantage over both the DS and the PSP: You can call your friends on it.
While this round of the "console war" has largely died down, the handheld war is just gearing up. Get ready for some carnage.