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Sony Computer Entertainment United Kingdom (SKEUK) has announced the long-awaited PlayStation 3 model with 40GB hard disk drive, no backwards compatibility with PlayStation 2 games and some other limitations. Even though the new device was announced only for the UK, it is highly-likely that the low-price PS3 40GB will be eventually available in the whole world.

Starting from mid-October the world’s largest maker of game consoles will sell two versions for the PlayStation 3 in the UK: PS3 60GB value pack at ?349 ($707) and PS3 40GB for ?299 ($606). The former game console is a fully featured PlayStation 3 game console compatible with PlayStation 2 games, whereas the latter entry-level machine will not be able to play titles developed for the previous-generation hardware.

Sony explained that the introduction of the new PS3 has been determined following user feedback from thousands of existing PS3 owners as well as research into future potential Sony PlayStation 3 owners. The new model is no longer backwards compatible with PlayStation 2 titles, reflecting both the reduced emphasis placed on this feature amongst later purchasers of PS3, as well as the availability of a more extensive line-up of PS3 specific titles (a total of 65 titles across all genres by Christmas). Given that modern PlayStation 3 60GB (PAL) and 80GB (NTSC) do not feature build-in PlayStation 2 processors for backwards compatibility, but rely on software-based approach, it is unclear why would Sony axed this feature for the latest model, if PS2 games are still supported on more expensive PS3 versions.

Besides, the PlayStation 3 40GB features two USB 2.0 ports rather than four and no longer includes the multi memory card port – both features that, for those who wish, can be enhanced or provided through the addition of readily available aftermarket accessories. The new PS3 model still can playback Blu-ray disk movies and connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi technology.

The new version of Sony PlayStation 3 40GB console will finally revitalize sales of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.’s latest game machine, which have been lagging behind Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360 due to considerably lower prices of the rivals.

“As we approach our very first PlayStation 3 Christmas, it is satisfying to be able to offer UK consumers the choice of two PlayStation 3 packages both now representing remarkable value. We have a brand new 40GB machine that represents an excellent entry point into the world of high-definition games and movies, and we have the fully featured 60GB machine being offered with two next generation gaming experiences at a highly competitive price,” commented Ray Maguire, managing director of SCEUK.

Sony PlayStation 3 console is based on the Cell processor developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the RSX graphics chip by Nvidia Corp., wireless network and Bluetooth connectivity and is equipped with Blu-ray optical disk drive. There are several versions of the consoles available around the world with 60GB or 80GB hard disk drives and variable compatibility with PlayStation 1/2 games. In the U.S. PlayStation 3 80GB is sold for $599, whereas the hard-to-find 60GB model retails for $499.

“The introduction of the new PS3 has been the result of extensive research into the entertainment needs and preferences of the next generation of PS3 owners,” said David Reeves, President of SCEE. “It has allowed us to deliver an extremely advanced, yet highly affordable high-definition entertainment system, configured to the needs of the next generation of European PS3 owners. PS3 has always been the device of choice for the discerning gamer and entertainment seeker, and the new PS3 is more than ever the perfect high definition entertainment system.”

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