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Sony introduces slimmer PlayStation

Sony is introducing a smaller, slimmer and lighter version of its PlayStation 3 console ahead of the year-end holidays as it gears up for growing competition in games from smartphones.

The announcement from the Japanese electronics and entertainment company comes a day ahead of the annual Tokyo Game Show, where game makers show their wares, and coincides with Friday's launch of the iPhone 5 smartphone.

The new PlayStation 3, closer to the size of a laptop, is half the size of the original model, introduced in 2006. It also offers more hard-drive memory at 500GB and 250GB, up from the 320GB and 160GB options.

The global roll-out starts on September 25 in North America, where the 250GB version will sell for 269 US dollars (165). The other version will sell for 299 US dollars (184) from October 30.

In Japan, the models go on sale on October 4 for 29,980 yen (233) and 24,980 yen (194).

Tokyo-based Sony posted its worst loss in its 66-year history for the fiscal year ending in March - its fourth straight year of red ink - and is banking on games to help steer a turnaround.

Sony is slashing the price on its PlayStation Portable, or PSP, mobile device as it increasingly moves on to focus on its upgraded PlayStation Vita, and plans to expand entertainment based on cloud computing after recently acquiring Gaikai, a US game company.

The PlayStation Vita will not get any upgrades yet, but will be available in new colours - blue and red - in addition to white and black, but only in Japan.

Speculation is buzzing about a PlayStation 4, possibly before the end of next year, but officials have not confirmed it.

Sony has slashed its PS Vita sales target for this fiscal year through to March 2013, to 12 million units, down from 16 million given three months earlier, pointing to the economic slowdown and noting intense competition from smartphones and social networking entertainment.

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