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PS3s offer 'identical' functionality, Sony exec claims

Well, sort of...

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Sony has claimed that the 20GB version of its upcoming PlayStation 3 console will offer "identical functionality" to the 60GB model. However, it remains unclear whether the lower-capacity machine will sport an HDMI port. Indeed, comments from the company suggest it won't.

Speaking to the BBC, Phil Harrison, president of Sony Computer Entertainment's games development studios, said: "What we should be clear about is that the functionality is identical in both machines. There is no difference in what the machine does."

That the two models might not be was signalled by information posted on SCE's Japanese website. It indicated clearly that the 60GB model has features the 20GB version lacks: specifically, the HDMI port, the four-in-one memory card reader and the Wi-Fi adaptor.

According to Harrison, both versions will support HD output: "It's just that the technical method of extracting audio and video from the devices is slightly different."

Harrison went on to say the 20GB model is pitched at gamers, while the 60GB version will be aimed at consumers looking for a broader home entertainment system. In that light, the lack of Wi-Fi and the memory card reader make sense - gamers are unlikely to want to copy their digital photos onto their games console, for example. They're also likely to be less keen on paying the premium Sony is asking for the higher spec machine - €599 and $599.

However, they may be keen on using the PS3's Blu-ray Disc drive to play movies, and thanks to the lack of an HDMI port, this appears to be potentially denied them. Without HDMI, the PS3 can't support the HDCP anti-piracy system, so some discs may default to standard definition. Anyone who buys the upcoming HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 may face a similar quality issue with HD movies. As Harrison notes, the 20GB PS3 will support HD output through its AV ports, just as the Xbox 360.

The PS3 will launch in Japan on 11 November. It will ship in the US and Europe six days later, on 17 November. ®

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