Sony Announces Low-End PS3

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. is launching a new, cut-down version of the PlayStation 3 in the hopes of boosting sales of its gaming console.

The new version will go on sale in Sony's home market on Nov. 11, a year to the day after Sony launched the first PS3, the company announced Tuesday. It will be priced at %39,980 (US$341).

Sony had already announced last week that the new console will also be launched in Europe, Australia and some countries in Africa and Asia on Wednesday this week. North American launch details are yet to be announced.

The cut-down model has a 40G-byte hard-disk drive, as opposed to the 60G-byte drive on the current high-end model, and doesn't have the ability to run PlayStation 2 software. The number of USB connectors has also been halved, to two.

In Japan the console will be available in two colors: clear black and ceramic white.

Sony hopes the cheaper version of the PlayStation 3 will make it more attractive to shoppers as the year-end holidays approach. The lower-priced Xbox 360 and Wii consoles have provided the PlayStation 3 some stiff competition, and sales of the console haven't lived up to the Tokyo company's original predictions.

At the same time as the new PlayStation 3 comes out, a new controller will also be offered. The DualShock 3 was announced at the Tokyo Game Show last month and features "rumble," which makes it shake at certain points in games. Sony said the controller, which costs %5,500, will be available in Europe and North America in early 2008.

The existing PlayStation 3 models, which come in 20G byte and 60G byte models, retain backwards compatibility with PlayStation 2 games, which is the key difference with the cut-back version. The existing machines will also see their prices cut to accommodate the new 40G-byte model. The 20G byte version will cost %44,980 and the 60G byte version will cost %54,980.

To help stimulate sales Sony will bundle a copy of "Spider-Man 3" on Blu-ray Disc with 200,000 of the two machines currently on sale from Oct. 17 and the new PlayStation 3 model when it launches.

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