New Sony PSP Go! Loses UMD, Expected in June

Many rumors have circulated around Sony's next iteration of its handheld gaming device, the PSP. First, it was to lose its UMD drive; then get a cosmetic overhaul; then a Christmas release date forecast. Today, we find cohesion among the gabbing masses.

1Up cited "inside sources" at Sony have played with the newest PSP, supposedly named the PSP Go! This moniker was derived from Sony's recent usage of Go! on its European PSP peripherals, like Go!View and Go!Cam.

Following the thread of previous rumors, the PSP Go! will likely ditch the UMD drive in favor of digital downloads that plant directly on the new internal flash memory unit. PSP Go! may be available in two storage models: 8GB and 16GB. This rumor makes perfect sense due to Sony's digital download-only release of Patapon 2. Concurrent with the device's launch, Sony may to release 100 downloadable games in its store, ranging from the PSP's old disc catalog to new titles.

Those left holding UMD discs are out of luck. One rumor has it that Sony will supply in-store kiosks to allow gamers to dump UMD data onto their PSP Go!, avoiding the pain of repurchasing a game. Still, abandoning the UMD is likely to anger earlier adopters of the PSP, and may even cause Sony to lose new customers.

Also out of luck are those waiting for dual analog nubs -- according to rumors, the PSP Go! will feature slide-out controls beneath the screen, but will maintain the control scheme of the current PSP model. If true, this is a major missed opportunity for Sony. Enough people have pleaded for dual analog sticks since the initial release of the PSP; it's about time Sony delivered.

Capitalizing on the recent boon of iPhone touch screen games, the PSP Go! might have a touch screen of its own. This, too, would make perfect sense as a reactionary effort to mimic the iPhone/iPod Touch and Nintendo's DSi -- Sony's main competition in the gaming arena. A sleek and large touch screen could be just what Sony needs to get the PSP off the ground.

Though it was unmentioned, I'd also bet the PSP Go! has a built-in digital camera. The DSi has it; the iPhone has it; almost every device on the market has it; it's time for Sony to jump on the bandwagon. There's a lot of logic behind modeling the Go! after Sony's failed Mylo in terms of hardware and connectivity.

These are all rumors and speculation at this point, and Sony refuses to comment. But given how the current causal gamer is obsessed with digital downloads, touch screens, and sleek, lightweight designs, I'd be willing to place a wager on the authenticity of these guesses. The rumor mill says the PSP Go! will be unveiled at the E3 summit in June, and will hit Japanese markets in September and come to the United States in the Fall.

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