Yes, I’ve Played With Sony’s New Gaming Portable, The NGP

Today in Tokyo, Sony unveiled it’s newest PlayStation Portable, codenamed Next Generation Portable or NGP, for the first time. And I’ve played with it.

Even at Sony’s event, the NGP’s beautiful OLED screen was stunning. It looks even more stunning up close. The touch elements on the front screen were more than serviceable, offering a new experience for PlayStation Portable gamers.

At first glace, the NGP seems large. It is, measuring out larger than the PSP-3000. But while it isn’t the smallest handheld on the block, it surprisingly light.

“That’s because it doesn’t have a UMD drive,” Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida tells Kotaku. In the place of the Universal Media Disc, Sony is using flash memory-based cards and digital downloads.

Unlike the smaller PSPgo, the NGO fits comfortably in the hands. On the back, there is a touchpad, which is glossy and slick to the touch. Initial worries are that it’ll get guncky with dirt and grime. Using it, however, felt quite natural as my finger movement responded directly to the onscreen action. There are Sony’s iconic button icons as a monogram. Next to them are grips for one’s hands.

The entire handheld is sealed like an iPhone, so players will not be able to change the battery. The reason for this Yoshida says is because of the rear touchpad. It’s apparently not possible to have a rear touchpad and changeable battery like on the current PSP-3000.

On the top of the console, there is metallic trim on which there the power button as well as volume buttons.

The rear and front cameras are unobtrusive.

The buttons and the directional pad are akin to what players are familiar with for the current PSPs. Also, the handheld has a layer of gloss similar to the previous PSP models. Throughout my hands-on, two Sony staffers stood by with white gloves, ready to wipe down any fingerprints.

The dual thumbsticks were a revelation – fast, responsive and easy to use. For those who always felt that the PSP thumb numb never got it right, you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised. The NGP, for as large as it seems, left me pleasantly surprised. It’s light, and it’s beautiful.

Note: The large plug sticking out is not the battery cable. It is speaker plug for large portable speakers that were set up by Sony for the demo.

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