AP Photo TOK105
^By CHESTER DAWSON= ^Associated Press Writers=
TOKYO (AP) Sony Computer Entertainment unveiled today a new version of its popular PlayStation video-game player, a more powerful system with better graphics and memory that is expected to be launched next year.
The widely anticipated player, provisionally named PlayStation II, will use a 128-bit microprocessor developed jointly with Toshiba Corp. It is four times more powerful than the current PlayStation on the market.
The new machine will match the power of rival Sega's new Dreamcast game player, which went on sale in Japan last November and will be launched in the United States this fall. It will be twice as powerful as Nintendo's popular 64-bit system.
Sony said the new PlayStation boasts higher resolution, faster processing speeds and greatly expanded memory capacity that translates into real-time responses to commands and computer graphic-quality images.
The PlayStation II stores data on DVD-ROM discs, a step up from the more common CD-ROM disc used for the current generation of PlayStation software.
All games sold for the old system will be compatible with the updated console, so the hundreds of software titles available for the classic PlayStation will not become obsolete overnight.
Sony expects the new system to be available in stores in Japan next winter and in the United States by the fall of the year 2000.
More than 50 million units of the original PlayStation have been sold worldwide since its debut in Japan in 1994 and in the United States a year later. It accounts for more than two-thirds of the game console market, eclipsing competitors such as Sega and Nintendo Co.
But by disclosing its plans for PlayStation II, Sony could see a sharp drop in sales of its current game hardware and software if consumers hold onto their money until the new version of the game player comes out.
That could hurt Sony's earnings, at least in the short term, because strong PlayStation sales have helped offset a slump in sales revenue from its other consumer electronics products in key markets such as the United States and Japan.