Sony to offer preview of PS3 at Ala Moana

PlayStation ready for Xmas

By Jason Genegabus
Oahu residents will get their first chance to see, touch and play the new PlayStation 3 this weekend, two weeks before it arrives in stores. Two of the new gaming machines are on display at the 2007 Sony Expo, which takes place at the Ala Moana Hotel’s Hibiscus Ballroom from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and tomorrow.

Sony expects an initial shipment of 400,000 units to North America by Nov. 17, with a total of 1 million shipped by the start of 2007, according to Kazuo Hirai, president and chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America. But he would not say how many would be making their way to Hawaii.

The release of the PS3 comes almost 12 years after the first PlayStation arrived in America. Sony followed with the PlayStation 2 in 2000, and introduced the hand-held PlayStation Portable last year.

Priced at $499 and $599, the PS3 comes with either a 20-gigabyte or 60-gigabyte hard drive, and a Bluetooth wireless controller. An Ethernet port will provide Internet access (the 60-gigabyte model comes with wireless capability), while new Blu-ray disc technology will replace the current DVD format that was standard in earlier PlayStations.

"Not only (does it) play PS3 games, but also Blu-ray movies from all the major studios," said Hirai of the new machine. "It is the first home-based computer entertainment console that allows for true 1080 progressive (high-definition video) output right out of the box."

However, the new Blu-ray technology will not render old PlayStation games obsolete. The PS3 will be backwards-compatible with all PlayStation and PS2 games, and will also play traditional DVD movies. Three new games for the PS3 will be released simultaneously on Nov. 17, with 22 titles due in stores by the end of the year.

Using the PS3’s Ethernet access, Sony’s PlayStation Network online service will allow users to download additional content, including exclusive online-only games, music and videos. A number of games for the original PlayStation also will be re-released online.

"With consoles like the original PlayStation, the PS2 and now the PS3, we’ve established video gaming as a legitimate form of entertainment that’s not just for kids," Hirai said. "At midnight (on Nov. 17), I think there’s going to be a lot of people lined up … to get their hands on a PlayStation 3."

But the PS2 isn’t going to disappear just yet. While Sony stopped manufacturing the original PlayStation earlier this year, Hirai said the company has no plans of abandoning the PS2 for at least the next five years.