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Handheld Gaming Systems Double as Portable Video Players (December 27, 2005)

Nintendo's Game Boy Micro (Jiji)
A growing number of people have begun to take advantage of video on the go, watching movies or television programs while riding the train or relaxing in a cafe. And among the most popular devices for portable video playback are handheld gaming consoles. These gaming systems, popular among adults as well as children, offer a range of entertainment options in a single, palm-sized device.

More than Just Games
In recent years, the advent of high-definition images and ultra-slim plasma and liquid-crystal displays has led to larger and larger television screens. Yet there has also been a concurrent trend toward smaller, more portable products. The driving force behind this trend is handheld gaming consoles, which are becoming an increasingly familiar item for both children and adults.

In December 2004 Sony Computer Entertainment launched its Play Station Portable, which comes equipped with built-in video playback capabilities. A few months later, in April 2005, major film studios began releasing PSP discs containing full-length films, such as the blockbuster Spider-Man 2.

But content is not limited to commercial discs; the PSP can also play video saved onto a Sony Memory Stick. This feature allows users to view video files transferred from their home computer or television shows saved on a hard disk drive-equipped Sony DVD recorder.

A further development came in October 2005 when Sony released the LocationFree Player software for the PSP. Users with a LocationFree Player device can view their home television on their PSP via the Internet. This system enables users to access video anywhere there is a wireless Internet connection and also eliminates the need for recording or saving files.

Nintendo fans have access to video playback capabilities with a new add-on called the Play-Yan Micro, which can be attached to the Game Boy Micro, Game Boy Advance SP, or Nintendo DS. Users can access video files they have saved from their computer onto an SD Memory Card, which is inserted into the Play-Yan Micro.

A Real Timesaver
Other viewing options for Nintendo handhelds include video provided in the Advance Movie format. Though similar in appearance to the Play-Yan, Advance Movie cartridges are sold commercially, marketed primarily at children, and consist mostly of animated titles, such as the ubiquitous Pokemon. Animated content can also be downloaded from special vending machines called Advance Gashapon.

While their decrease in both size and price in recent years has made portable video devices more attractive, the hustle and bustle of modern life seems to be another reason for their success. Many people simply do not have time to sit down on the sofa and watch a favorite program, but they do have quite a few spare moments during the day that might otherwise go unused. Compared to laptop computers or portable DVD players, handheld gaming consoles are cheaper and easier to carry - two features fueling their popularity. Some of these devices are even being used for business presentations.

The portable video market is now a hive of activity. Services that deliver online video content to cellular phones have been expanding, and digital terrestrial broadcasts for mobile handsets are scheduled to get underway soon. Competition in the portable video player market is set to intensify.

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Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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