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Sony unveils new 'NGP' portable PlayStation

Japanese entertainment giant Sony on Thursday unveiled a portable touchscreen PlayStation as it looks to launch a fresh challenge to Nintendo and Apple in the competitive mobile gaming market.

At a special media event in Tokyo, Sony also unveiled a "Suite" application for older PlayStation games allowing them to be played on mobile phones and tablet computers running Google's Android operating system.

The "Next Generation Portable" PlayStation will succeed Sony's PlayStation Portable handheld device and boasts 3G mobile connectivity and wifi, allowing users to download games and other content, said Kazuo Hirai, president and group chief executive, Sony Computer Entertainment.

The NGP features a five-inch organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touchscreen, a GPS receiver, a motion sensor and a rear panel touchpad to control certain actions, as well as navigation buttons and a joystick.

Sony said the device would be available in time for the 2011 holiday shopping season but did not indicate a price.

The Japanese giant's PSP Go, launched in November 2009, already features software downloads through a wireless connection, allowing players to also browse the Internet, watch movies, play music and read books and comics.

Its gaming rival Nintendo is also about to introduce its new 3DS handheld device next month which allows users to play 3D videogames without the need for special glasses, the first major game machine to do so.

Sony sold nearly 65 million PSPs as of the end of September 2010, but the device has been overshadowed by the popularity of Nintendo's DS, which has sold at least double that since its release the same year.

Sony's move comes as smartphones and tablet computers such as Apple's iPhone and iPad take a growing share of the market for portable gaming devices onto which high quality games can be easily downloaded and played in minutes.

The Japanese company also unveiled the PlayStation Suite, an application for Google's Android market which will run videogames of older PlayStation console quality.

Sony said the new application will be available later this year.