Sleek new PlayStation 3 consoles took their places in US homes as Sony tapped into its videogame prowess to put itself at the heart of Internet Age entertainment.
The PS3 model that made its US debut was slimmed to be stylishly unobtrusive but featured a beefy 250-gigabyte hard drive to store more films, music, games and other digital content.
A version with a 500-gigabyte hard drive will hit the US market on Sunday. The models are priced at $249 and $299.
The 500-gigabyte PS3 will be released in Europe on Friday with a price tag of 299 euros ($386). A version of the console based on Flash memory was set for an exclusive debut there on October 12 for 229 euros.
"While we certainly use gaming as our foundation, the PS3 is a complete entertainment center in the living room," John Koller of the PlayStation hardware team told AFP.
"We added higher hard drive space because consumers have become much more digitally inclined; it is a significant area for all of us in the industry."
Memory capacity for consoles has become increasingly important to users as lifestyles shift to downloading games, films and other digital content from the Internet.
Sony has ramped up its PlayStation Network online service for games, movies and music and made free games available for PlayStation Plus members.
More than 4,000 games have become available for download for PS3 since the console was launched in November of 2006, according to Sony.
Sony completely redesigned console innards, reducing volume and weight.
"It is certainly a cleaner, sleeker model that takes up less space and looks cool," said National Alliance videogame industry analyst Mike Hickey.
However, he noted, powerful and pretty new PS3 models might have to come with a price cut to lure a significant number of new users to PS3 this late in the life cycle of the console.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]