The new console can also output a progressive-scan video image, which should mean a better picture for users with a compatible television. The console is also quieter and the remote controller has been improved with the addition of a power on/off button and eject button -- functions that require a trip from the couch to the console on the current model.
It's not just new features that make the SCH-50000 different from its predecessor. Sony has removed the iLink (also called IEEE1394 or Firewire) connector from the console.
"We took if off," said Furusawa. "The broadband environment has become popular and we think the capabilities that we wanted to use iLink for can be realized for users through the network."
The console will retail for around ¥25,000 ($207) which is just a little more than the current PlayStation 2 sells for in Japan at present. Furusawa said the company would announce plans for overseas sales as soon as plans had been determined.
SCEI's move to add features to the PlayStation 2 comes at a time when Microsoft Corp., one of its two major competitors, is cutting the price of its Xbox console to better compete. Microsoft last week cut its European retail price for the Xbox console by 20 percent to €199 ($214).