Sony Releasing New PS3 Models in North America

By Paul Hunter

Continuing the trend of roomier hard disk drives, Sony Computer Entertainment of America announced two new, larger capacity PlayStation 3 models that will be available in North America soon. The new SKUs were announced initially for Europe during gamescon, and later confirmed for western markets.

Both packages will include the new, slimmer form factor PS3 model that was introduced last summer and achieved an impressive sell through of one million units in only three weeks.

The launch of the new models is timed with the imminent release of PlayStation Move, Sony's new motion-sensing technology to compete with the Nintendo Wii and Kinect for Xbox 360.

The first model to be introduced will be a new charcoal black 160GB PS3, which has a $299.99 MSRP. At 33% more space than the current 120GB model, and for the same price, the 160GB PS3 represents a good value for consumers who can hold out until they start appearing in retail stores across the country. Sony's press release stated the 160GB "is now shipping".

The next model announced includes a 320GB PS3, the largest hard disk drive ever available for the console, and will release day and date with Sony's PlayStation Move on September 19, 2010. This PlayStation Move bundle includes a PlayStation Eye camera, one PlayStation Move motion controller, a copy of Sports Champions, and a bonus Blu-ray demo disc. Sports Champions is the flagship PlayStation Move title, and similar to Wii Sports is a collection of sports games intended to demonstrate the console's motion control capabilities. The sports included in Sports Champions are: Table Tennis, Volleyball, Gladiator Duel, Disc Golf, Bocce and Archery.

“With the launch of PlayStation Move just around the corner, we’re expecting many new consumers to join the PlayStation family. The PS3 Sports Champions Move bundle provides those families with everything they need to get into motion control gaming at a great value, with the 320GB model PS3 system as the centerpiece of the package,” said Scott A. Steinberg, vice president of product marketing.

Thanks to the high-resolution image processing technology within the PSEye, the PlayStation Move is reported to be more “precise” and “exact” than controls on the Wii, even with the Wii MotionPlus attachment. The PlayStation Move uses the wand's light source to track motion in 3-dimensions down to millimetre precision, accurately relaying 2D as well as Z-plane movement information. The Wii Remote is also able to process Z-plane movements but apparently it's not as accurate as the precision found with PlayStation Move. That means gamers will have true 1:1 control accuracy during play.

At present, there are two PS3 models available, the 120GB and the 250GB configurations. Sony also released a special 250GB model earlier this month which includes a copy of Madden NFL 11. No word on whether any of these three packages will be phased out, but if I had to place bets I'd predict the 120GB will eventually be replaced by the new 160GB version, and given that Madden is an annual franchise, the NFL 11 bundle is surely a limited run.