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Sony to add hard drive, modem to US PlayStation 2

Firing shots across X-Box, Dreamcast bows

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Sony will ship the US version of the PlayStation 2 with an 8GB hard drive and a modem, an unnamed company insider told Bloomberg today, a month ahead of Sony's official announcement. Bloomberg's deep-throat didn't say whether Sony's hand was forced by Microsoft, which announced its hard drive-equipped X-Box console last month, but it's easy to believe that this is the case. X-Box isn't due to ship until late 2001 - the best part of a year after PlayStation 2 made its debut - but Sony is acutely aware of the danger that the rival machine presents. Even if Microsoft's console does only half of what the company claims it can do, it can still build up sufficient expectation in buyers to persuade them to steer clear of PlayStation 2. That, after all, is what PlayStation 2 did to Sega's Dreamcast. By adding hard drive and a modem, Sony reduces the 'feature deficit' between PlayStation 2 and X-Box. But it's a wonder that Sony didn't build in a modem in the first place, considering its aim to make the PS2 the home gateway to the Net. Perhaps it reasoned that broadband access would render modem devices unneccessary. So what's the rationale for the new feature set? It suggests to us an attempt, with the hard drive, to subvert interest in X-Box, and a move, with the modem, to counter Sega US' decision to give away Dreamcasts in exchange for subscriptions to its Internet access service. According to the Bloomberg source, Sony will announce the changes to the PlayStation 2 at next month's games-oriented E3 show. ® Related Stories Sony to fold US music, movie wings into broadband unit X-Box unleashed: MS snubs PC OEMs, dumps AMD Athlon PlayStation 3 to ship 2002 Sega US preps free Dreamcast lure for its ISP Japanese firm offers 50,000 free Dreamcasts

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