Sony's next-generation portable becomes PS Vita

Sony's replacement for the venerable PSP - which we have all fondly known as the NGP (Next Generation Portable) for some months now - has been outed at this year's E3 gadget-fest.

Officially named the PS Vita, the $250 hand-held games console will arrive "Later this year" according to Sony gaming supremo Kazuo Harai. Officially unveiling the much-leaked gadget for the first time, Harai hinted that the PS Vita had taken many cues from Apple's current dominance of the hand-held gaming market with multi-touch gestures on the device's five-inch OLED front screen and rear-mounted touchpad.

The device will also feature a quad core CPU and quad core GPU, a pair of analogue joysticks, two shoulder buttons and twin cameras facing front and rear.

The PS Vita, which was expected to cost as much as $400 by some pundits, surprised most of the gathered crowd at E3 when it was announced that the wi-fi only version would retail at $250 with a 3G-equipped model weighing in at $300.

That's pretty much in line with the entry level iPod Touch at $229 and Nintendo's 3DS at $250, but it's clear that Sony is taking an initial hit on the cost of the hardware, hoping to recoup revenue on the sale of games.

It's a loss-leading methodology commonly known as 'razors and blades' due to the way manufacturers of male grooming products sell expensive razor handles at a large loss in order to tie punters into buying their proprietary consumables for many years to come.

Although the PSP was sold under the same principal, Sony's original portable console has been plagued by rampant piracy leading to a worrying shortfall in profits for the Japanese electronics giant.

The PS Vita will no doubt learn lessons from the PS3 which uses regular system updates to lock out the pirates while offering no added value to honest gamers.