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Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Nintendo unveils new handheld, next console coming

Nintendo yesterday took the wraps off its new handheld game machine with two screens in a bid to fend off Sony's entry into the portable gaming market.

The new portable game player, called Nintendo DS -- for Dual Screen -- features two three-inch liquid crystal display screens, one above the other. One of the two screens is touch-sensitive and works with a pen-like device, often used in personal digital assistants.

Nintendo officials did not say how much the DS would cost, but promised that it would be "affordable" when it goes on sale in Japan and the US by year-end. Nintendo expects the device to hit stores in Europe and Australia by 31 March.

Nintendo's DS plays existing Game Boy Advance software, while offering a separate cartridge slot for new, smaller DS games. The new cartridges will use NAND-flash memory of more than 1GB, Nintendo said.

The company also said DS would offer two wireless communication technologies: one for short-range communications, similar to Bluetooth networks, extending up to 100 feet and the other based on WiFi wireless networking.

DS will probably not be the device's final name, Nintendo said.

The Kyoto-based game maker also said it had started developing a next-generation console that Iwata says will create a gaming revolution. Technical specs have no tyet reveilled, however.

That view marks a sharp contrast to the strategy adopted by Nintendo's rivals, Sony and Microsoft, which both plan to unveil muscled-up game machines within the next few years powered by cutting-edge semiconductors.

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