Sony's PSP2, aka NGP - Doomed from the Start? (and a quick mention of Sony Ericsson Xperia Play)

Bill Loguidice's picture

Sony officially announced their PSP successor, code-named Next Generation Portable (NGP). Details here. As you can see, its main technical features of note are a high resolution 5" inch OLED touch screen on the front, a multi-touch pad on the back, two analog sticks, and two cameras. It also has six-axis motion sensing system similar to the PS3's controller and a three-axis electronic compass. Typical for Sony, it's another "kitchen sink" handheld, with the only notable omission being 3D, a la the Nintendo 3DS. Unlike the 3DS - and even though I'm a long-time owner of the original PSP - I'm finding little to be excited about with Sony's new handheld. The PSP failed - relatively speaking, of course - because it did nothing to distinguish itself as a portable. Sony's strategy was to offer a portable console, which many people have no interest in. There appears to be a similar strategy with the NGP. The PSP was somewhere in-between the PS1 and PS2 in terms of power, the NGP is somewhere in-between a PS2 and PS3 in terms of power. If you look at the software list from the link, it's the same types of titles you get on the PS3. While there will be the usual augmented reality and sharing features (again, just like the Nintendo 3DS), the idea of a dedicated portable like this in today's world of smartphones and tablets seems a bit counter-intuitive, and it doesn't have the 3D angle Nintendo's 3DS features. As such, I'm skeptical of the NGP's success.

Rather further under the radar is the announcement of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, an Android phone that appears to offer PSP-like gaming and some ability to run the same type of software (albeit of the lowest common denominator variety, potentially taking some of the bloom off of owning the superior gaming platform if developers target both). This strategy makes somewhat more sense in that consumer energy is really behind smartphones these days, but to my mind Sony should have done the Xperia Play AND made the PSP2 a 7" Honeycomb tablet with the full complement of gaming controls and beefed up hardware. This way they could also sub-license to Android and Honeycomb vendors "PSP-powered" gaming technology. That to me would have made a far greater impact. As it is, I think Sony is not going to make much of a dent with the Xperia Play because Android-powered smartphones (technology-wise) are a fast moving target (and phones tend to get replaced every two years anyway), and the NGP - no matter how inherently cool - is not a distinctive enough technology to pull enough people away from the 3DS and their existing (or future) smartphones and tablets, the latter two of which already make formidable modern day gaming platforms. Sorry, Sony.

Agree or disagree with my assessment? Sound off in the comments!

Comments

Nous
Nous's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/07/2007
...last one! (promise)

n/a
Nous
Nous's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/07/2007
but then again...

...why not just get the optimus 3d?

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Love it, but...
Nous wrote:

...why not just get the optimus 3d?

It's undeniably impressive, it's just a shame that the 3D aspect is a one-off type of thing in that it's not endemic to the OS/infrastructure. It's a shame that Google couldn't make a standardized 3D implementation (basically subset) in Android and Honeycomb so this way they could lead the way on this tech rather than have headset manufacturers need to splinter off like this.

n/a
Nous
Nous's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/07/2007
How exactly?
Bill Loguidice wrote:
Nous wrote:

...why not just get the optimus 3d?

It's undeniably impressive, it's just a shame that the 3D aspect is a one-off type of thing in that it's not endemic to the OS/infrastructure. It's a shame that Google couldn't make a standardized 3D implementation (basically subset) in Android and Honeycomb so this way they could lead the way on this tech rather than have headset manufacturers need to splinter off like this.

I am not sure how the 3D implementation could be standardised as it's just a hardware (screen) thing - on the OS level, it would only require a tiny change in the display drivers for it to be enabled (or disabled) for any application that uses opengl in 3d. As for the applications, it wouldn't really require any changes in their code; as long as they use opengl (as they all do anyway, directly or indirectly) then the 3d effect should be there.

I am not sure what kind of standardisation you have in mind. 3D doesn't require anything special in terms of code.

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Make 3D hardware and interface support part of the OS
Nous wrote:
Bill Loguidice wrote:
Nous wrote:

...why not just get the optimus 3d?

It's undeniably impressive, it's just a shame that the 3D aspect is a one-off type of thing in that it's not endemic to the OS/infrastructure. It's a shame that Google couldn't make a standardized 3D implementation (basically subset) in Android and Honeycomb so this way they could lead the way on this tech rather than have headset manufacturers need to splinter off like this.

I am not sure how the 3D implementation could be standardised as it's just a hardware (screen) thing - on the OS level, it would only require a tiny change in the display drivers for it to be enabled (or disabled) for any application that uses opengl in 3d. As for the applications, it wouldn't really require any changes in their code; as long as they use opengl (as they all do anyway, directly or indirectly) then the 3d effect should be there.

I am not sure what kind of standardisation you have in mind. 3D doesn't require anything special in terms of code.

I'm talking specifically about Google having a 3D extension in their OS, right down to standardized menus and controls for switching between 3D and 2D modes. I'm saying that what Android/Honeycomb doesn't need is more splintering, where something cool like a glasses free 3D screen is something that's left up to the hardware manufacturing to implement and work into the OS rather than something Google itself offers by default. I'm asking Google to take care of the low level stuff so it's a feature of the OS that hardware manufacturers can choose to take advantage of or not.

n/a
Nous
Nous's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/07/2007
I wouldn't worry too much about it

Manufacturers customise their UI experience anyway (motoblur, sense, etc). There isn't much to standardise in the low-level layers of the OS. This LG device will not be incompatible (if that's the term) with any other 3D android device despite the fact that others will probably use their own UI one way or another (though the 2d/3d switch button and the 3d slider will be common on all).

So, if you're worried that manufacturers will be put off by the complexities of implementing a 3D screen, don't worry; there aren't any such complexities, the tech itself is quite standard as it is and they seem to like their customised UIs anyway - it's their way of differentiating their products to some extent!

n/a
Rowdy Rob
Rowdy Rob's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/04/2006
3D screen tech too primitive (now)?
Nous wrote:

So, if you're worried that manufacturers will be put off by the complexities of implementing a 3D screen, don't worry; there aren't any such complexities, the tech itself is quite standard as it is and they seem to like their customised UIs anyway - it's their way of differentiating their products to some extent!

If I'm not mistaken, most of these 3D video screens are based on the old "lenticular" imaging techniques available for many a decade (baseball cards and other printed photos). In those old "baseball cards," if you moved your viewing angle, you could see the image from the corresponding angle, resulting in a "holographic" image. You could actually "look around" the object a bit. Or, more commonly, the technique was used to simulate moving imagery/animation when the card was turned back and forth.

With general computer-based (and modern TV/movie-based) stereoscopy, it merely separates one left/right eye fixed viewpoint. I think most graphics drivers (including OpenGL) just divide the video "frames" in "left/right" pairs from a fixed viewpoint. This means that, while the image appears stereoscopic, you can't "look around" the displayed image to get the "holographic" effect.

If these portable 3D phone/game displays are indeed based on "lenticular" technology, wouldn't it be neat to have that "variable viewpoint" ability? As far as the basic screen technology, there's little stopping them now, except perhaps the lack of pixel resolution necessary.

Alas, that would mean that you'd have to compute and display multiple (dozens???) of viewpoints simultaneously, which would require a manyfold increase in graphics/processor horsepower to produce. I suspect that the graphics technology is powerful enough on the PC level (although obviously at reduced detail), but the software drivers are currently not designed to display a single left/right fixed viewpoint.

I suspect the way around this is to just compute a single left/right stereo image, but use the portable device's gyroscopic position sensors to sense when the user's viewing angle has been altered, and adjust accordingly. I wonder how well this would work in practice, though.

It would be very cool, though! I suspect we aren't too far away from such "holographic" games appearing on portable game systems!

Nous
Nous's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/07/2007
No can do!

Unfortunately the tech used currently would not allow that Rob! Why? Simply because there is only one focal point which means that in order to get the 3D effect the viewing angle and viewing distance have to be withing a very narrowly defined ideal window; so narrow that you practically have to make sure that neither your head nor your arms move in order to maintain the illusion.

But I totally agree with what you said. In fact, this is *exactly* what I said above, in a previous post (let me quote myself):

The really interesting use of 3D will be when something as powerful as the NGP (or more powerful even) uses parallax panoramagram technology - which, instead of using 2 images per frame, it renders many images (a bit like a hologram) and allows the viewer to look at a 3D scene from different angles and see different 3d aspects of it naturally as if looking outside a window and moving your head horizontally or vertically! Obviously there would be a much greater need for performance (10 or more sub-images per frame!)

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Sony PlayStation Tablet Coming Soon

If true, this would very much be something of interest: http://www.maxconsole.net/content.php?44629&s=b8616d7d48b3a61844d5e0592e...

n/a
Nous
Nous's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/07/2007
Probably true
Bill Loguidice wrote:

If true, this would very much be something of interest: http://www.maxconsole.net/content.php?44629&s=b8616d7d48b3a61844d5e0592e88ab1f&&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

I think it's true - the whole Playstation Suite idea seems to imply we'll be seeing things like this, and more!

Of course I don't expect this to have specs that are even half as good as the NGP. We're still waiting for a reasonably priced tablet (I define tablet as a 9-10 inch screen, large battery, etc device - because someone may argue that a 5 inch device is already almost a tablet); $599 will probably not be nearly enough for a profitable NGP-spec tablet this year.

n/a

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.