The PlayStation 3 looks set to be the first of the next-generation consoles to take a bow in front of the world's media - albeit only by a matter of hours, with Sony announcing that its pre-E3 conference will take place just ahead of Microsoft's.
Sony will hold its event on a sound stage in Sony Pictures' complex in Culver City, just outside Los Angeles, at 15.00 PST on Monday, May 16th, and is expected to show off the next-generation PlayStation for the first time at this event.
Three hours later at 18.00 PST, Microsoft will kick off its own event in downtown Los Angeles, where it is expected to finally take the wraps off the next-generation Xbox, currently known only by its development codename Xenon.
The scheduling is threatening a headache for media and industry types who need to attend both events, since if the Sony event runs on for a while it could be quite tough to get from Culver City back into downtown LA in time for the 6pm kick-off with Microsoft.
Outline hardware specifications for both systems are fairly well known; the Sony system uses the custom Cell processor, created in partnership with IBM, and a next-gen NVIDIA graphics chipset, while Microsoft has opted for standard IBM Power-series processors and an ATI graphics solution.
However, a number of key elements remain to be confirmed, such as the amount of RAM in the systems, the type of media they will use - PS3 is expected to use high capacity Blu-Ray discs, while Xbox may well stick with the current DVD technology - and whether either will feature a hard drive
Of course, what many consumers will want to know is simply what the devices look like, with the external appearance of both systems being kept a closely guarded secret so far - and, indeed, what they're called, as neither company is expected to use the obvious "PlayStation 3" and "Xbox 2" naming scheme.