Obviously in the wake of new technologies that many hope to be successful, many are forced into expressing their concerns and doubts about said technology. The NGP is no different in that sense, and as a lover of PlayStation and video games, I can’t help but hop on that band wagon.
The most common concern amongst everyone is obviously price. And the NGP, like the PS3 before it, and in true Sony fashion, is pushing the envelope of technology. No mobile platform available to date or even currently in production packs under the hood what this device does, nor is there any gaming device out there that can say it even offers some of the features that the NGP is capable of.
The other big concern that’s most common in the tech blog world seems to be battery life because of its over powered specs.
That being said, let us look back at what sorts of devices were being made available in 2010 at the same time as the NGP is set to release in 2011. The first things that come to mind are the Samsung Galaxy, iPhone 4 and the iPod touch. All boast impressive hardware that were at the forefront of mobile technology at the time, also, all are multi-purpose devices similar to that of the design of the PSP.
The iPhone 4 packs 1GHz Apple A4 single core processor, 16GB of built in storage, WiFi, 3G, BlueTooth connectivity, 5MP rear facing camera, a much lower resolution front facing camera, 512MB of RAM, a 3.5″ high resolution multi-touch Retina display, gyroscope for motion detection. The iPod touch has all the same spec sans 3G, phone capabilities and a lower resolution rear facing camera, still able to shoot 720p videos however and starts off with 32GB of storage. Both run Apple’s iOS featuring multitasking, mp3 playback, video playback, internet browsing, email, GPS and just about anything you imagine you’d be able to do with it by the use of applications.
The Samsung Galaxy has a 1GHz Cortex A8 dual core processor, the also extremely high resolution 3.5″ multi-touch AMOLED display, 8GB internal storage as well as an expandable MicroSD card slot and just about every other spec on par with Apple’s iPhone. It runs Google’s Android OS which boasts all of the same features iOS does and also has its own app store.
The NGP has an amazing 1.5GHz quad core Cortex A9 processor, 1GB of RAM, built in memory, front and rear facing cameras, built in memory as well as expandable memory, 5″ multi-touch OLED display, rear multi-touch back panel, 3G, WiFi and BlueTooth connectivity, SixAxis, as well as a powerful GPU. It will run PlayStation’s new LiveArea which apparently features live message boards and many other community applications, the BlueTooth and built in camera’s and microphone would lead one to believe some form of video and voice chat, online multiplayer gaming, web access and multimedia (based on the XMB for both PSP and PS3) as well as whatever games developers make for it.
The iPhone 4 sits at a price point of $549 without a contract, so we’ll use that price to compare, the iPod touch starts at $249 for the base model and the Galaxy sits at $479
From this, it may seem overly optimistic to expect a price of around $299. Especially since it’s more than likely that the 3G would be persistent and without a contract. The Kindle with a persistent 3G connection is $189, and that’s only an e-reader, however, it’s also without a contract.
Judging by trends in technology however, it’s not unfair to say that a price point for the NGP at launch would be $299-$349. Apple will release their iPhone 5 in July, undoubtedly with at least a dual core 1GHz-1.5GHz processor and far greater specs on its other features, that will more than likely sit at the same price, or even in classic Apple fashion, be lowered by $20-$50. And then suddenly it, it doesn’t seem so unrealistic for a lower price on the NGP. While it’s still sitting above the current technology in terms of sheer power, it’ll probably have mediocre cameras also it’s only an OLED screen. While having tons of other features, it can sacrifice the spending on things probably no one will ever use.
Battery life on the other hand I don’t believe should really be a concern at all. I can play Infinity Blade for over an hour on my iPhone and only use 15-20% of the battery. Now, that may look really bad but think about all the things that are going on in the phone. Infinity Blade is by far the most graphically intense game on the iPhone/iPod Touch, running the Unreal Engine and blowing everything I’ve ever seen on a mobile device out of that water by a mile. Keep in mind however that the game only has two characters on a screen at a time and even the environment in which they’re seen is extremely limited. But think about all the things the phone itself is doing simultaneously. I have every push notification under the sun turned on, so my phone is constantly awaiting notification from everything from FaceBook, to email, to even the dictionary. It’s constantly awaiting phone calls and text messages through the network. It’s also running all it’s basic operations that keep the phone running. So really, it’s amazing that my phone doesn’t die entirely after that hour.
The NGP on the other is only doing a small fraction of the operations that the iPhone would be doing. Not to mention I’m sure you can turn networks off. The NGP is a gaming device before everything else, it’s dedicated device meaning it’s full attention, is on the game at hand. I know the PSP when launched had huge issues with battery life, but it also was spinning a disc. It may not seem like much of a task but eliminating the UMD will raise the battery’s life by hours. Put a CD into you laptop and constantly access it so it’s continually spinning. You’ll most certainly notice that your battery life has suddenly dropped by probably 1.5-2 hours. That’s huge. Turn off your WiFi, watch your battery gain an hour. Turn off 3G on your phone, you just gained a half day (at the sacrifice of network speed). All these things affect the battery life more than you think. When you have a device dedicated to a specific task and doing far less background operations, suddenly it’s not so bad. I think the NGP will have a 12+ hour battery life compared to the PSP’s original 4-6 hours for just games.
A friend of mine has a concern that in order to use 3G he’s going to have to get a contract. But I think it’ll be more like the Kindle in that sense. If you do have to buy a data plan, first, you’ll be getting the device at a much lower cost (iPhone goes from $549 to $169) also, that’s bullshit and no one will buy it (The Not Gonna Purchase). The NGP would use the 3G connection most likely for access to the PSN for online gaming since multiplayer doesn’t really use up that much bandwidth (my friend played WoW tethering net from his phone for 2 hours and hardly used up any of his data plan, and that’s the largest scale of gaming) since all that’s really being transferred over the network are small packets of information, any sort of graphically intensity is all done natively on the machine itself. It’s unlikely however that the 3G connection would allow you to download full games. The iPhone, for example, won’t allow you to download games over 3G that are over 20MB. So updating a game would be realistic. Downloading a full game, that’s more than likely to be limited to WiFi.
UPDATE: As it turns out in an article I just read, there will indeed be two versions of the NGP, one WiFi only and one with 3G. It also turns out that I’m entirely wrong about the 3G connectivity in that does require a subscription to some sort of service. Damn.
That’s all I have to say on the matter for now. Thanks for bearing with me these 1300 words.