Sony PSP 2 rumours: Top 10 explored

PSP 2 features, release date and more discussed

We've amassed a sackful of rumours in the past few months over the follow-up to Sony's PSP Go - some of them possible, some of them mental. With the Nintendo 3DS now on its way in March release and Apple's iPhone/iPad tag team carving up the casual and touchscreen gaming markets, there's no idea too far out of the box to be worth considering if Sony's to retake its position as the hardware champ in the handheld race.

UPDATED: PSP 2 pictures: NGP official images

The 27th January is strongly tipped to be the day the PSP 2 officially surfaces, so until then, here's our pick of what to expect (or in some cases, almost certainly not to expect) from the next-generation PlayStation Portable.

See below for our top 10 PSP 2 rumours explored

Rumour 1: Sony PSP 2 to have 3G and OLED screen

Fresh off the PSP 2 rumour pile, Nikkei Business Daily reports that the next PlatyStation Portable will have 3G support, but will not be able to make phone calls. It does however, mean an always-on internet connection to download games and video and play online. It's also claimed that Wireless LAN connectivity will feature, giving you internet access via Wi-Fi hotspots.

The same source also indicates that we can expect an OLED screen, and while Sony has already delivered its first consumer-friendly 11-inch OLED TV, the XEL-1, it will be interesting to see if they decide to focus on much smaller screen surroundings.

Rumour Likelihood: 5/10

- PSP 2 concept pictures

Rumour 2: Sony PSP 2 have PS3 quality graphics

A particular rumour to have gathered momentum in recent months, an unnamed source speaking to IGN claims to have already played with the device and that there will be enough processing power to deliver PS3-like graphics.

While they did not reveal what kind of clock speed we can expect, they also added further specs info including PSP Go-like dual anlog sliders, front and rear-facing cameras, a larger touch enabled display, and a rear-mounted touch panel which will respond to taps, swipes and other gestures.

Rumour Likelihood: 5/10

- PSP 2 concept pictures

Rumour 3: Sony PSP 2 will be more powerful than Xbox 360

Staying on the console-power front, 'multiple sources' involved in detailed meetings with Sony at the Tokyo Game Show to talk the PSP2, claim the new portable gaming device will feature 1GB of RAM which in comparison to the Xbox 360 (512MB of RAM), is some leap in the power department.

Sony's current portable gaming models, the PSP Go and the PSP 3000 both host 64MB of RAM, which is some way behind the 1GB of RAM being touted for the new PSP, and this to us seems like something of an ambitious claim, even it Sony is expected to suitably up its game on the portable gaming front.

Rumour Likelihood: 2/10

- PSP 2 concept pictures

Rumour 3: It will feature an Nvidia Tegra graphics chip

There's been speculation that the delays in getting the PSP 2 out the door (the first PSP 2 rumours were in 2006) have been caused by its incorporation of an Nvidia Tegra 2 graphics chip - powerful, certainly, but also reportedly cursed with budgetary and deadline problems since debuting in a tablet at CES.

During a Mortal Kombat developer interview, Netherrealm Studios' Shaun Himmerick says rather ambiguously that the developers have got "it" running at 60fps, although whether he's talking about their pre-production PSP 2 or a new game isn't clear. Either way though, 60fps is an incredibly high benchmark.

The two obvious downsides of building putting a super-chip into a handheld are the price and the effect on battery life, although the next-gen Tegras are reportedly highly energy efficient. If Sony can put together a PSP2 that goes like a PlayStation that's great - but not if it only runs for half an hour between charges and costs its weight in diamonds.

Rumour Likelihood: 5/10

- PSP 2 concept pictures.

Rumour 4: It will be controlled by a touchscreen

Several game devs have apparently confirmed this one, and as we saw with the PSP Go and its slide-out control panel, Sony's not afraid of getting a bit whacky with the control system for its handhelds. But complete touchscreen control? Colour us sceptical.

While Apple are enjoying a lot of success with gaming on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, dedicated gaming devices aimed at dedicated gamers are surely going to need things that get pushed and clicked if they want the accuracy that Sony's hardcore clammor for. Sony have a good history with touchscreen technology with their Xperia phones and their latest Walkman mp3 players, however, so perhaps some kind of buttons-and-touchscreen compromise can be reached.

Rumour Likelihood: 7/10

- PSP 2 concept pictures

Rumour 5: It will be controlled by a touchscreen - on the back.

So mad we're slightly afraid to discount it; a similar rumour cropped up as one of the predicitions for Apple's iPad, although obviously that turned out to be bunkum. The PSPs of times gone by have always had a design based on the PlayStation controller, and no tech developers so far have taken touch control off the front screen of a device in a big way, so betting the farm on such a radically new idea seems ill-advised. Then again, naysayers had similar things to say about a certain Apple "iSlate" once upon a time...

Rumour Likelihood: 2/10

- PSP 2 concept pictures

Rumour 6: It will have a camera

We'd call this a near-cert. Sony's been dipping its toes into social media with PlayStation Home and combining its PlayStation Eye camera with games in the form of the PlayStation Move, so omitting such a common feature would be a truly senseless blunder (and don't forget: Sony have been selling the Go! PSP camera peripheral for ages). Sony's also got a knack for getting hi-res snappers into small spaces, as evidenced by the Xperia X10 mobile's 8MP sensor, making the addition of an inbuilt camera a no-brainer if ever we saw one.

Rumour Likelihood: 9.5/10

- PSP 2 concept pictures

Rumour 7: It will be download-only

This was the route taken by the latest incarnation of the PSP, the PSP Go, which had a pretty shaky reception on launch. On the one hand, a lack of physical media frees up space on the device, but on the other, you need a decent connection over WiFi or 3G or downloading games and media takes an age. Furthermore, PlayStation CEO Kazuo Hirai has said that Sony wants to sell future products in places where the infrastructure for download-only consoles doesn't exist. So there you have it, from the horse's mouth.

Rumour Likelihood: 5/10

- PSP 2 concept pictures

Rumour 8: It will have 1080p playback

If the next-generation PSP is being built around the Nvidia Tegra 2 chip, then it's certainly possible, as 1080p is one of the next-gen Tegra chip's proudest boasts. However, that leaves open the question of how one's supposed to load such massive files onto the device - the data charges for downloading 1080p over 3G would be oligarchic-ly high. 720p video capture is becoming a mobile phone mainstay right now, so we'd back that over its higher definintion cousin (unless the PSP undergoes a major design shift, the screen would be too small to appreciate 1080p video anyway).

Rumour Likelihood: 2/10

PSP 2 concept pictures

Rumour 9: Sony PSP 2 will have an e-book reader

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Sony is looking to build a PSP successor that borrows characteristics from a whole heap of other machines.

"Sony is developing a portable device that shares characteristics of handheld game machines, e-book readers and netbook computers,” says the piece, with NTT DoCoMo president Ryuji Yamada adding that "Videogame makers know that in order for portable game machines to take the next step forward, they need wireless communication."

Far from having to contend with the Nintendo 3DS and all its additional multimedia capabilities, there is also the small matter of the growing mobile gaming market for Sony to think about. Maximising the PSP 2 appeal by offering more than just a gaming experience will be paramount to success, so don't be suprised to be reading your e-books on the way to work on your new PlayStation Portable.

Rumour Likelihood: 6/10

- PSP 2 concept pictures

Rumour 10: Sony PSP 2 release date in 2012?

Mortal Kombat devs Netherrealm are the only studio to out and out say that they have a PSP 2 in house, and according to them it looks "like a pretty powerful machine". That may be true now, but the technology will certainly be starting to look dated if the release is delayed further by over a year.

Also, we've had wind of Sony halting the sale of the current PSP's development kit last year November. With the PSP2's clearest competitor, the 3DS, just a few months away from launch, surely Sony developers won't just be kicking their heels while it eats up the handheld market? We put our money tentatively on a 2011 Autumn launch. Tentatively, mind.

Rumour Likelihood: 10/10

- PSP 2 concept pictures


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