Sony to connect PSP to Mac, PC

Sony Pictures' vice chairman Yair Landau told attendees of the iHollywood Digital Living Room forum that his company will release software allowing its PlayStation Portable (PSP) hand-held game console to connect to Macs and PCs, according to a recent report. What's more, the device will also be able to work with Connect, Sony's music download service, offering potential competition for Apple's iPod.

The PSP, already released in Japan, is set to debut in North America on March 24th. The device is a game system, but Sony is playing up the PSP's other capabilities as a general entertainment system as well. Landau called the PSP "the first entertainment Swiss Army Knife," according to a News.com report.

Although a third-party solution has already been released that helps Mac users move content to and from their PSP's, this is the first indication that Sony will have its own solution to do so. Landau said the software would be released within a year.

The PSP features a Universal Media Disc (UMD) drive, a Sony-developed optical format that can store up to 1.8GB of data per disc. Games developed for the PSP are available on UMD discs. What's more, PSPs can view MPEG-4 movies encoded using H.264 -- the same compression technology Apple vaunts in its forthcoming QuickTime 7 release, due with Tiger's introduction later this year.

Sony plans to leverage this capability by releasing movies in UMD format after the new game console launches. In fact, the first million PSP's shipped in North America will include a UMD version of Spider-Man 2. The UMD drive in the PSP is read-only, so you'll only be able to buy UMD discs that already have content on them.

To exchange data with the PSP, Macs and PCs can write to on-board flash storage using Sony's Memory Stick flash cards via the PSP's USB 2.0 interface. Memory Sticks can store game data, as well as photos, audio files and other content. It can connect to a PC or Mac using USB 2.0, and also features IEEE 802.11b wireless networking connectivity.

The PSP is also compatible with Sony's high-capacity Memory Stick Pro Duo format. These flash media cards can store up to 1GB of content, providing PSP users with potentially iPod shuffle-like storage capabilities.

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