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Sony Previews 'Life With PlayStation'

Sony is preparing a non-game service for its PlayStation 3 console that at first glance is similar to one available on Nintendo's Wii.

Called "Life with PlayStation," the service will launch with news and weather information channels but is set to be considerably expanded in the future, said Kaz Hirai, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, at a Tokyo news conference on Thursday.

"By utilizing the full processing power of the PlayStation 3, 'Life with PlayStation' will bring unique content centering on two axis, place and time," he said.

The basic interface was a globe of the Earth that could be spun to reveal the different regions of the world. Major cities were marked on the globe along with the current weather conditions and news headlines pertaining to the city were listed in the corner of the screen. As you browse, background music from the hard-disk in the PlayStation 3 can be played either as a user-defined playlist or one chosen by the console.

The interface is similar to the news and weather channels on the Nintendo Wii, which are navigated through a globe and offer similar news and weather information.

But there are some differences. The graphics on the PlayStation 3 are higher resolution and the globe isn't a simple map of the world but a weather satellite image showing the cloud patterns above the planet. When a news headline was clicked in the demonstration it opened a link to an Internet page, which is different to Nintendo's service that brings up stories provided by content partners.

The news and weather channels are just the beginning.

"For the primary version the application sticks to the present time but in the future we plan to build a system that can visually present stored photos and movies according to their recorded time and place, allowing users with their friends and family to enjoy the visuals in chronological order," said Hirai.

In-game advertising and premium content, announced by Hirai earlier for the PlayStation 3, will also play a part in "Life with PlayStation" in the future, he said.

A release date and fuller details on the service will be announced "at a later date," he said.

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