Sony to cut PlayStation price, introduce LCD monitor

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) said Monday it plans to slash the price of its PSone game console on Wednesday -- just two days before Nintendo Co. Ltd. launches its long-awaited Gamecube console.

The retail price of the PSone will be cut from 15,000 yen to 9,980 yen (US$125 to $83) making it considerably cheaper than Nintendo's Gamecube, which will retail for 25,000 yen. The Gamecube is one generation more advanced than the PSone and will compete on technology terms with the PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming Xbox console. However, for price-conscious consumers the difference between new and previous generation consoles will not be greater.

The PSone is a physically smaller version of its original PlayStation console and was launched in July last year to breathe life back into the first-generation system after the company launched the PlayStation 2 in early 2000. SCEI also said Monday that it plans to launch a delayed LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor for its PSone console on October 12 in Japan. The 5-inch color TFT (thin film transistor) monitor clips onto the top of the unit and allows game play without a television. It doesn't quite make the unit fully portable, as there is no battery pack. Users will still need to be within range of a power point.

When the company introduced the PSone, in June last year, it said it would launch the companion LCD monitor in early 2001. However, earlier this year SCEI said it was delaying launch of the monitor because a shortage of LCD panels had meant it had been unable to secure a sufficient supply of LCD panels. In addition to the monitor, a new pack combining the console and monitor will go on sale in Japan from November 22. SCEI did not release a price for the pack or disclose plans for overseas sales of the monitor or overseas pricing plans for the PSone.

By reducing the price of the console, SCEI turns up the heat in the game console market. The company has already seen off Sega Corp., which threw in the towel on its Dreamcast console earlier this year, and will go head-to-head with Nintendo from Friday this week. Microsoft will join the battle in Japan much later after it recently said it would delay the launch of its Xbox in Japan until February next year.

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Martyn Williams

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