Rumor: PSP2 Out Before Christmas

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Sony may release its ballyhooed PSP2 later this year, say the prophets at Pocket Gamer who claim their anonymous source is not Dave Perry. That's because Dave Perry — possibly to his chagrin — is in fact the guy who only a few weeks ago said he knows another guy who's working on a prototype of a PSP without a UMD drive (for non-PSP-wonks, that's the mini-disc games and movies play from). No UMD drive equals radical architectural shift equals something a bit more distinguished than an iterative model number bump. Ergo 'PSP2'.

So Pocket Gamer's source (anonymous of course) is raising Perry's UMD-less PSP2 by a touchscreen that slides open and a pair of dual analogue thumb nubs. They go one further by suggesting the specs and pricing will make waves at E3 this June.

Word is, this device is being bumped up to compete with Apple's iPhone and Nintendo's DSi. Right or wrong about the device specs or exact release timeframe, sitting on your hands while your competitors drink your milkshake is just sloppy, and while Sony may on occasion be egoistically blinkered, it's not stupid.

The device described above would dovetail with Sony's recent PS3 interoperability push. The PSP game Resistance: Retribution already employs a cross-link featured dubbed 'PSP Plus' that allows you to play the game using your PS3's DualShock 3 controller. Anyone looks for a current-future dual-analogue development link, there it is. And who's not beyond the pale to speculate about Sony offering updates to existing games that might benefit considerably from use of a second analogue nub. The Syphon Filter and Metal Gear Solid third-person shooters both come to mind just for starters.

How would you feel about a UMD-less PSP? I'd be thrilled, frankly. Even the quieter UMD drive in the newer iterations drives my wife crazy if I opt to play in bed at night. I'm also weary of hunting for slipcases to tuck my UMD discs into. Whoever thought leaving the accessible gap without some sort of protective slider (like you used to see on 3.5" floppy disks) apparently wears a bunny suit and lives in a cleanroom.

I'm also stoked about rumors of direct-download gaming. UMD discs can store up to 1.8GB dual-layered. I can pick up a 32GB memory card (memory stick duo) for just north of $100. If we're allowed to back them up to our PS3s or PCs, the possibilities for stamp-sized-library gaming are tantalizing.

As for the touchscreen, I don't care about playing simple games with the touchscreen closed, but I'd be all over an SD (or micro-SD) EVDO wireless modem. If Sony wants to back into the telephony market the same way Apple's currently backing into gaming, they'll need more than just Wi-Fi and Skype to ante up.

Anything else you're hoping to see in Sony's inevitable PSP-next?

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