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Sony Europe Bringing TV to PS3, PSPs

Sony Europe Bringing TV to PS3, PSPs

At the Leipzig Games Convention, Sony Europe formally took the wraps off new video and mobile services for both its PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable systems that are nothing if not ambitious.

As rumored earlier this month, Sony Europe announced its plans to launch PlayTV, a TV Tuner and personal video recorder software for it PlayStation 3 console system. PlayTV aims to make the PS3 the heart of the living room, offering dual high-definition capable tuners and convert the PS3 into a fully-function DVR system, with an onscreen programming guide and controls all managed using the PS3 controller. The system will offer “seamless” connectivity with the PSP, so users watch live and recorded programming on the PSP via WiFi, or transfer their television programming to their portable systems for on-the-go viewing. But here’s the catch: as is befitting an announcement at a major games expo in Europe, Sony’s PlayTV is based on the DVB-T format—nary an ATSC or NTSC tuner in sight. Sony plans to roll out PlayTV in the France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the UK in early 2008, with other PAL regions following thereafter. At this point, Sony has made no public comment on releasing a PlayTV-like device for the North American market.

The PlayStation Portable hasn’t been left out of Sony’s plans: Sony Europe has confirmed it will launch three new “Go!” branded services in Europe.

First, Go! Entertainment is expected to launch in early 2008 in conjunction with British Sky Broadcasting and will offer a video download service for PSP owners in the UK and Ireland. Users will be able to use the PSP’s built-in WiFi connectivity to download a “vast selection” of Sky’s sports, movies, music, and animated programming, as well as select content from other partners; if WiFi isn’t available, users will be able to transfer content from a PC. Users will be able to subscribe to specialized Sports, Entertainment, and Animation packages, as well as catch premiere content on a pay-per-view basis.

Next up, Go! Messenger will add WiFi-enabled instant messaging, and VoIP voice video chat capabilities to the PSP. Go! Messenger should be available throughout Europe in January 2008. Loaded as an application via Memory Stick (which seems to mean it’s a firmware update), users will be able to send text messages using a new onscreen keyboard, and participate in chat using headset mic and/or the Go!Cam PSP camera accessory. Go! Messenger will be free, but—for now, at least—it’ll be available in Europe only, in partnership with telecommunications operator BT.

Finally, Sony Europe announced Go! Explore, a satellite navigation system for the PSP. Offered in conjunction with TeleAtlas and NavNGo, Go!Explore will offer both in-car and pedestrian navigation for the PSP using 3D maps, voice navigation (in 11 languages!), and version with map information for UK/Ireland, Iberia, France, Germany/Austria/Switzerland, Italy, Benelux, and Scandinavia. Users will be able to purchase new maps via the PlayStation Network, and Sony says WiFi-based features will come to Go!Explore in the future. Sony hasn’t released any pricing information, save to describe Go!Explore will be available at an “affordable” price, which will include the PSP GPS accessory. And again, no word on similar services for the North American market. Go!Explore is due in early 2008.

And if that weren’t enough for European PSP owners, two new colors are coming September 5: Simpsons Yellow and Spiderman Red.

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