Sony's NGP, now PlayStation Vita: $249, available this holiday season

Sony unveiled the PlayStation Vita, the official name of its next handheld gaming device, at its press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Calif. today.

“We’re confident that the PlayStation Vita will be the first device that truly blurs those lines between entertainment and real life,” Sony executive Kaz Hirai said on stage.

The company also unveiled the official details about the device. The device features two analog sticks, a 5-inch OLED touchpad screen, a touchpad on the device, six-axis motion sensing technology and a front- and rear-facing camera. It will come in both a wi-fi enabled and a 3G-enabled model. It will be available on AT&T for the 3G version of its device. (The audience groaned when Hirai said that.)

It also features a chat feature that will let gamers chat with their friends through a headset or through the built-in microphone using a private social network for PlayStation Vita users called Party. Players can also recommend content and interact with their friends in a private social network called Near. The Vita will also have a new hand-held Bioshock game that still does not have a title, the company announced today.

The Vita is packed with a much more powerful processor than its rival handheld gaming console, the Nintendo 3DS. Sony has banked on delivering a more powerful handheld that can handle cinematic-intensive games like Uncharted instead of trying to find the next new feature that gamers will like. That strategy didn’t prove successful with the original PlayStation Portable, which was soundly beaten by the Nintendo DS. But the device does show some serious promise early on.

The PlayStation Vita will be available during the holiday season this year. The Wi-Fi only model will cost $249 and the 3G Wi-Fi model will cost $299.

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