Rumour: Sony's NGP gets its specs slashed

Gaming fans eagerly awaiting Sony's Next-Generation Portable - the successor to the PlayStation Portable hand-held console - could be in for a disappointment, with rumours circulating that the hardware is going to be significantly downgraded from its original specifications.

The device as originally announced was a beast of a machine, packing 512MB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and 128GB of dedicated graphics memory. Couple that with a fully-fleged 3G broadband connection, a display with a resolution that rivals that of the iPhone 4's 'retina' display, and a clever touch surface on the back of the device, and gadget geeks the world over started salivating.

But, according to French-language news site 01net, Sony has been forced into a few compromises in order to get the cost of the device down to a level where it will be able to compete in retail with Nintendo's flagship 3DS. The 512MB of RAM has been chopped in half to 256MB, while the 16GB storage is entirely missing - replaced, the site claims, with optional external storage cards.

While unconfirmed by Sony, the report does answer one burning question: how the company hoped to release the high-spec device it originally teased at a price that wouldn't have gamers running for the hills - especially if it chooses not to allow mobile carriers to subsidise the cost of the console, as with the Xperia Play smartphone.

With the reduced specifications, the NGP will still be a seriously powerful piece of hand-held hardware - but with Sony apparently falling into the trap of over-promising and under-delivering, that might not be enough to have fans queuing up at launch.

The NGP is expected to launch in Japan before the end of the year, with a world-wide launch some time in 2012. Sony has not yet responded to our request for comment on the rumour.