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Additional PlayStation 3 Launch Details

Kaz Hirai, president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, revealed additional details surrounding the PlayStation 3 launch today during the company's pre-E3 media gathering.

The system will launch worldwide in November 2006. Two different packs will be available, both containing a BluRay capable disc drive, a built-in hard drive, gigabit network capability, and support for multiple wireless controllers.

Said Hirai, "Every PlayStation 3 system will ship with a hard disk drive."

One pack will come with a 60GB hard drive, an HDMI video output, and card slots for Memory Stick storage media. Another, less expensive pack, will include a 20GB hard drive, but will not offer the memory card slots or the HDMI output. This cheaper pack, however, will still offer the typical Sony multi-out for Composite, S-Video, and Component video output up to 1080i.

Japanese gamers will be able to purchase the system first, on November 11, 2006. The 20GB model will be available for 59,800 yen, and the 60GB model will be available at an open price (likely 69,000 yen).

November 17, 2006 is the launch date for Europe and North America. The 20GB pack will sell for $499, while the 60GB pack will sell for $599.

With regard to the system's specs, Hirai confirmed that the system will support true 1080p hi-def output and Dolby Digital surround sound, and that it will carry a BluRay drive (which can also play DVD and CD media). In order to view that 1080p content in full resolution, however, you'll need to own a TV that supports 1080p resolution and purchase the $600 PS3 pack that comes with the digital HDMI output. Standard analog outputs top out at 1080i.

Once again, Hirai affirmed that PlayStation 3 will be fully backward compatible with PS1 and PS2 discs.

Regarding online capabilities, Hirai noted that "online and networking for the PlayStation 3 is as essential as the air we breathe." The system will support multiplayer play, friends lists, text messaging, voice chat, video chat — free of charge.

A content download service will also be available, to provide game trailers,
demos, music videos, and other content downloads (such as game levels). Some
content downloads will be free, others will be sold for a small fee. Similar to
Microsoft's Xbox Live service, people will be able to pay for microtransactions
with a credit card or using a pre-paid card to-be-called the "PlayStation card."
Spending limits and other such controls will be built into the system's parent
control features.

To show off the capabilities of the PlayStation 3's online service, Sony Studios
WorldWide president Phil Harrison gave a hands-on demonstration of Singstar, the
company's upcoming karaoke game. Singstar lets players sing laong to music
videos from the actual artists. Additional songs and videos will be available
for download from within the game itself, for a small fee. Harrison demoed this
feature by going to an in-game menu and purchasing the Destiny's Child song Survivor , which he then "sang" along with. Also, using the EyeToy camera,
players will be able to record their own videos and upload them to the network
for everyone to see.

The new controller ( Large

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