Refreshed PSP to launch in Japan for $180

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Tokyo (Japan) – Sony’s Playstation Portable (PSP) will see its first major feature update next month: Scheduled for an October 16 launch in Japan, the new PSP-3000 is positioned to challenge Nintendo’s DS console, which currently outsells the PSP by almost 3:1 and has a substantial lead in total units sold.

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan (SCEJ) today said that it will begin shipping the PSP-3000 on October 16 in Japan. Priced at about $180, or roughly the same as the original PSP in March 2005, the new device will come with an advanced high contrast LCD and a built-in microphone. As previously reported, Sony will sell the device in three colors - black, white and silver - initially.

For a premium of about 20% or $40, the company will also offer a higher a “value pack” that includes a 4 GB memory stick, a PSP pouch, a hand strap and a cloth. There will be plenty of opportunity to order extras, such as a $35 accessory pack for and a $50 battery pack. A cradle will sell for $40 and “Cradle and D terminal AV cable” for $60. If Japanese users want to, they can spend close to $400 for their new PSP, excluding any new games.

Speaking of games, Sony will bundle the new PSP with several games, including Mobile Suit Gundam vs. Gundam (launch November 20, Patapon 2 Donchaka (November 27) and  Dissida Final Fantasy (December 18).

PSP users will soon be able to acquire new games through the Playstation Store through a PS3 and without the need for a PC. There will also be a new free online service which enables users to play PSP software titles featuring ad-hoc mode over the Internet through PS3 with other online players, Sony said.

Sony is still trying to crack the market power of Nintendo’s DS, which sold 608,400 units in July, while the PSP sold only 221,700 units in the same time frame, according to market research firm NPD. Sony sold 40.69 million PSPs between March 2005 and April 2008; Nintendo sold 77.54 million DS consoles between the November 2004 launch and July 31, 2008.