This could be some seriously big news, provided the Sony "insider" actually is an insider. According to Smarthouse , it appears the PlayStation 4 might be less than 18 months away. It would include the same chipset as the PS3, but it would differ in the drive bay and attachment area. It would also feature an extensive software suite designed for managing content streamed to a TV or Hi-Fi source.

Furthermore, Sony is apparently taking strides to improve the "output experience" so the machine can eventually become a "true home entertainment center," which would erase the need for a media center. Ken Kutaragi, who is retiring as chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment, has already said it would be possible to develop a fully Internet-based game console in the future. The "Father of PlayStation" mentioned that such a network-based machine would automatically reduce the cost to build the console. Is Sony taking this to heart with the PS4…?

"The design concept of the Cell processor is the network processor," Mr. Kutaragi said. "When the PS3 was introduced last year, the network environment was not ready for a net-based game console. Now it has become possible, so why not enter?"

The PS3 has taken a lot of heat for being expensive, and developers have complained about the complexity of the Cell processor. However, the games are on the way, and more and more praise for that Cell processor has arrived in the past couple of weeks courtesy of teams from EA and Factor 5. But a PS4 in 2010 could actually happen, despite initial claims from Sony that the PS3 had a "10-year lifespan."

We need to hear more from Sony about this rumor, and we'd also like a clarification on this "insider" who provided the information. But until then, we figure this is more than enough to contemplate. What exactly is Sony planning?

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