Sony has a new toy -- the PSP E-1000 (catchy name, guys) is a budget version of Sony's existing PSP handheld console, and it's going on sale in Europe this autumn, likely prior to the release of the PlayStation Vita.
Priced at a mere €99 (so we expect the UK pricing to be about £100), the idea is to offer portable jollies to gamers who don't have the cash to splash on the larger, more powerful Vita. But in making it cheaper, Sony has had to cut a few corners. Corners we'd rather had stayed pointy.
The major drawback is there's no Wi-Fi. That means no online gaming, and to play games you'll be relegated to using UMDs (the unsuccessful proprietary disc format Sony uses in its PSP consoles) or downloading games from the PlayStation Store to your computer, and then laboriously transferring them across to your console.
We appreciate the low price, but something about buying a new gadget without online capability feels... wrong.
There will be a range of cheap UMD games available (dubbed PSP Essentials) which will sell for €9.99, and include Invizimals: The Lost Tribe, EyePet Adventures and FIFA 12. Oh boy!
The plan, no doubt, is to hobble Nintendo's 3DS console this Christmas. But the 3DS does offer Wi-Fi, and of course its headline feature -- 3D gaming without the need for stupid spectacles. It has recently seen its own drastic price cuts though, down to as little as £115, in the face of disappointing sales.
Sony has said the PlayStation Vita (previously known as the Sony NGP) won't be out in the UK this side of Christmas, so assuming the E-1000 makes it out in the next few months, we could see a contest between this cheap PSP and the Nintendo 3DS taking shape.
But it will be a lacklustre race, like seeing which of two bored rabbits can chew through a carrot fastest. It feels like the real portable gaming battle is being fought on smart phones, or devices like the iPod touch. If Apple unleashes a new slew of iPods before December, both Nintendo and Sony's hopes of releasing a Christmas gaming sensation could be shattered.
Are you sweet on this bargain-bin PSP? Or is this a really, really stupid idea? Let us know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.