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Sony PSX to Have DVD Recorder

30 May, 2003 By: David Ward

Taking a huge step in its strategy to be the dominant player in the Internet-connected living room, Sony last week surprised the game community by unveiling its enhanced PlayStation 2, the PSX, which will have a built-in DVD recorder, TV tuner and hard drive.

The PSX, which will debut in Japan later this year and in the United States and Europe in early 2004, is widely being seen as a move to leverage the company's widely successful game brand to help other parts of the company. Indeed, while reports are sketchy, there are indications that PSX marketing and sales will be handled not by Sony Computer Entertainment, but rather by the new Broadband Network division of Sony Electronics.

“They're injecting all the fun and potential financial good will of the PlayStation 2 into their somewhat ailing consumer electronics line,” said Billy Pidgeon, analyst for The Zelos Group.

The consumer electronics and PC giant has been struggling recently, in large part because of increased competition from low-cost Chinese manufacturers. It recently announced it lost $945 million in the first quarter of 2003.

During a press conference in Tokyo, company officials stressed that the PSX is not the PlayStation 3, which is now not expected to be introduced until sometime in the 2005-2006 time frame. The PSX will play PlayStation 2 and PS One discs as well as music CDs, DVDs, and do DVD-R/RW and DVD+RW recording, but not write-once DVD+R.

In touting what he described as the company's new “crossover” device, Sony executive deputy president Ken Kutaragi said, “We want an extreme product to represent a new platform out of Sony.”

Sony officials were coy on pricing, but with DVD recording ability, a hard disc and TV tuner it will not likely be cheap.

“I do think it's going to be kind of a boutique item, but that really depends on the price range,” Pidgeon said. “If it's below $500, it could move a lot more units. It's also a proof of concept of a number of things they've been working on, such as connecting the media via the network to the consumer electronics in the living room.”

The move comes less than a month after Sony used the Electronic Entertainment Expo to unveil a new version of the PlayStation 2 featuring a built-in modem. The company also announced that it would be taking on Nintendo's GameBoy franchise in the portable arena next year with the PlayStation Portable.

With a built-in DVD recorder and hard-disc, the PSX may trigger some concern among game publishers, the music industry and Hollywood regarding illegal content piracy.

“There's going to be some interesting copy-protection issues linked to this device,” Pidgeon said, speculating that Sony may use the built-in Internet connection as a way to verify content and users before allowing any recording.

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