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Sony unveils a trio of new PlayStation 3 consoles

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Sony Corp. has unveiled three flavors of its new PlayStation 3 video game machine in what is likely a new round of console wars with rivals Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo Co.

The new machine, set for release in the spring of 2006, is about the same size as the current generation PlayStation 2 but has a more rounded look. Besides black, the PS3 will be available in silver and white.

Sony officials said Monday the PS3's new processor technology _ called Cell _ will offer high performance for movie-like realism in games, high-definition movies and other features.

``The PS3 is truly is a system to be placed in the center of the living room,'' said Ken Kutaragi, creator of the original PlayStation console as well as the more recent PlayStation Portable handheld.

Prices or a specific lineup of games that will be available were not were not provided, though Sony showed off numerous demonstrations of games in development.

The PS3 will use the Blu-ray disc format, capable of holding 50 gigabytes of information, which is about six times the capacity of existing DVDs, as well as slots for memory cards, a detachable hard drive and Bluetooth wireless for up to seven wireless controllers.

The PS3 also will be able to run the thousands of games available for the older PS2 and PS1, officials said.

One demonstration PS3 game showed a fiery battle between a soldier and a robot in an intricately detailed futuristic city. Individual tattoos and bits of blood could be seen on the warrior's face, while shafts of light beamed down from the rafters of a metallic corridor.

The announcement comes two days ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, an annual industry gathering in Los Angeles.

Last week, Microsoft showcased its new Xbox 360 in a 30-minute special on MTV.

Microsoft said it would begin selling Xbox 360 in North America around Thanksgiving, and Europe and Asia by the end of the year.

No pricing details have been announced on any of the systems.

Nintendo will discuss its new console, code-named Revolution, further on Tuesday morning.

In 2004, Sony's older PlayStation 2 led the U.S. console wars with 43 percent of the market, according to Jupiter Research. The original Xbox was a distant No. 2 with 19 percent, followed by Nintendo's GameCube at 14 percent. The remainder included handheld game systems.

But by 2010, Xbox 360 would grab the lead with 38 percent of the market, followed by Sony with 32 percent and Nintendo with 22 percent, Jupiter forecasts.

Microsoft is taking an entertainment hub approach with Xbox 360.

The curvy, white machine plays DVD movies and lets users listen to music, view photos and do real-time video chats with friends and relatives around the world.

The Xbox 360 features three processors, a removable 20-gigabyte hard drive, a custom graphics chip and built-in wireless for cable-free access to the company's Xbox Live online multiplayer service.

At a Monday evening news conference, Microsoft unveiled further details on upcoming games.

It plans to have between 25 and 40 games available for the Xbox 360 by the end of the year, including ``Final Fantasy XI,'' a sequel to the wildly popular Japanese role-playing game. Microsoft also said Electronic Arts, the world's largest video game publisher, would be releasing a lineup of games, including ``Madden NFL.''

The company said it would not release pricing details until late summer or fall, but said ``Xbox 360'' would be backward compatible with approved games for the original Xbox.
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