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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 05:53 GMT 06:53 UK
Sony reveals PlayStation 3 prices
By Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website in Los Angeles

The PlayStation 3 will be playable at the E3 expo

The new PlayStation 3 (PS3) will hit Japanese stores on 11 November, with the US and Europe following less than a week later, Sony has announced.

The console will come in two versions starting at $499 in the US and 499 euros (341) in Europe.

Sony announced the prices on the eve of the E3 games expo in Los Angeles.

The PS3 is the successor to the best-selling PlayStation 2 and will compete with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii.

The machines make up the next wave of video gaming. The Xbox 360 is already available, while the Wii is due out later this year.

The three console makers are competing for the hearts and minds of gamers in an industry worth more than $25bn (13bn) annually.

November date

Sony currently dominates in the home, having sold more than 100 million PlayStation 2s, so it has much riding on the new console.

It had originally planned to launch the system in the spring, but was forced to delay due to issues with its new Blu-ray DVD drive.

PlayStation 3 controller
The new controller has a tilt sensor
"We are not about cutting corners to rush a product to market," said the head of Sony game unit in the US, Kaz Hirai, at the company's pre-E3 news conference.

"The next generation doesn't start until we say it does. Today the PlayStation 3 is real."

Gamers have been eagerly waiting to hear more about the system and its price in order to decide whether to wait for the PS3 or shell out on an Xbox 360 now.

The PS3 sports a new processor called Cell which promises significant computing prowess, online connectivity and high definition graphics.

HAVE YOUR SAY
I am still enjoying my xbox and the very cheap games now to be had
Mark, UK

Japanese gamers will be the first to get their hands on the PS3 on 11 November. The console will arrive in the US and Europe on 17 November.

Sony also revealed the price of the console, which comes in two models.

The system with a 20GB hard drive will cost $499 in the US, while a model with a 60GB drive will cost $599. European pricing is 499 and 599 euros respectively.

Final pricing in the UK has not been set, but the top model would probably retail at about 425, said Ray MacGuire, of Sony UK.

"It depends on the exchange rate between ourselves and the Yen, and the exchange rate between ourselves and the euro as well. Sometimes it will go up, sometimes it will go down," he told the BBC.

"We'll have a look closer to the day. If I can make some savings, then of course I'd be well versed to do that because obviously I'd sell more of them."

Motion sensitive

The two models have very different specs. As well as different hard drives, the cheaper machine will not have in-built wireless or an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) connector necessary for hooking the machine up to a High Definition TV or monitor.

However, both systems will come with a new controller. Sony has abandoned last year's boomerang-shaped prototype and reverted to a design similar to the current model for the PlayStation 2.

One key difference is the inclusion of a motion sensor in the wireless Bluetooth controller.

In a demonstration, a virtual duck was made to jump out of the water by moving the controller upwards.

Sony is following in the footsteps of Nintendo, which has opted for a one-handed motion sensitive controller for its Wii console.

In order to satisfy gamers wanting a PS3 for Christmas, Sony said it planned to have two million units available at launch worldwide, with a further two million by the end of the year.

When Microsoft launched its Xbox 360 last November, many gamers were left frustrated by supply shortages.

The software giant has since ramped up production and has sold more than three million units, giving it a valuable head start.

Sony will also face competition from Nintendo's new machine, expected out later this year.

In the game

The exact list of games available for the PS3 at launch is still unclear. At its E3 news conference, Sony showed off playable demos of a number of titles.

These included a ninja fighting title called Heavenly Sword, an intense first-person shooter called Resistance: Fall of Man and an interactive monster card game called Eye of Judgement.

Game enthusiasts will get a chance to try out the games on the show floor once E3 opens its doors on Wednesday.

The expo is the annual showcase for the games industry, with more than 400 companies from 90 countries taking part.

Alfred.Hermida-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk




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See the PlayStation 3 console in action



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