Consumer electronics giant Sony have announced a new version of its Playstation Portable handheld games console that can be used as a telephone, to go on sale in Europe and the United States in mid-October.

The Playstation Portable 3000, which has been the subject of much speculation on technology websites, will have a built-in microphone and a new screen which has more colours and is better suited for use outdoors, Sony said at the Leipzig video games convention in Germany The PSP already supports the software program Skype, which enables users to make free telephone calls over the internet, but the new PSP, with built-in microphone, will make the process easier, Sony says.

"We believe that this will establish the PSP as a viable communication device," said David Reeves, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

The PSP 3000 will retail for €199 ($157), compared to €169 (£133) for the current slim version of the PSP, which will remain on sale.

Sony also said it would launch a version of its flagship Playstation 3 console with a 160 gigabyte hard drive to store more downloaded content and video, to retail for €449 (£355) on Oct. 31, including €70 (£55) credit for downloads.

A version of the PS3 with an 80 gigabyte hard-drive will go on sale for 399 euros later in August, Sony said.

Music videos streamed over the internet would soon be available free to the PS3, while a music and video download service modelled on its U.S. version should be available across Europe by the third quarter of 2009, the company added. More than 13.4 million units of the PSP have so far been sold in PAL territories.