Sony Computer Entertainment have announced that they are to release a portable PlayStation, in 2004.

PlayStation Portable (or PSP for short) will have a widescreen 480 x 272 pixel LCD screen, running MPEG4 video codecs, which Sony claim will allow for full motion video playback at DVD quality.

President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Ken Kutaragi revealed the portable machine, which has a Universal Media Disc that uses 60mm optical discs, which use a similar technology to DVD's, and can store about 1.8Gb on each disc. The tiny 6cm discs are planned to be used across a range of other Sony products in the future. The PSP will also be region free, allowing games from all over the world to be played without territorial lock-outs, as you'd traditionally find on consoles.

Connectivity with the PSP is provided via a USB 2.0 port on the device, allowing for connection to PlayStation 2 consoles, and will use Sony's Memory Stick technology for game saves.

PC-based development tools will be made available to developers from the Autumn of this year, with details of the licence scheme expected to be announced within the next few months. It's not yet known if the PSP will be based around the original PlayStation, the current PS2, or a new operating system.

PlayStation Portable is expected to go on sale as early as late 2004, although a European release might not be likely until 2005, with the first public prototypes are expected to be shown off next spring.

Related article: E3 2003: Sony hardware announcements