SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 19, 2011 (AFP) - Sony said Tuesday that its next-generation PlayStation Vita games console will be released in the United States and Latin America on February 22.
"PlayStation Vita will redefine traditional boundaries of gaming and blur the lines between entertainment and reality," said Sony Computer Entertainment America chief executive Jack Tretton.
"Its launch will serve as a pivotal point in the history of portable gaming and create a new fan base of PlayStation gamers for generations to come," he continued, announcing the launch date at a Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.
PS Vita handsets will be priced at $245 for models that connect online using wireless Internet hotspots, while versions with 3G mobile telecom connectivity will be priced at $300 each.
Sony previously announced that it will begin selling PS Vita in Japan on December 17 as it looks to mount a fresh challenge to rivals including struggling Nintendo.
Its launch comes as both Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's gaming models are under increasing pressure from products such as powerful smartphones and tablet computers onto which cheap or free games can be quickly downloaded and played.
In Japan, the PlayStation Vita will sell for 24,980 yen ($325) for the Wi-Fi version and 29,980 for the 3G model.
Analysts say Sony has spread the Vita's global release dates in an effort to ensure a sufficient number of games are available in each country to spur hardware sales, after Nintendo's 3DS suffered from a limited catalogue.
Nintendo cut the price of its 3DS game console, which displays three-dimensional graphics without the need for special glasses, by up to 40 percent after only six months due to weak sales.
Sony said it has 100 new titles in the pipeline and promised 26 games will be available for the Vita on its Japan launch.
The successor to the popular PSP (PlayStation Portable) that has sold 71.4 million units globally since its launch in late 2004, the Vita features an array of new functions.
The PS Vita features a five-inch (12.7-centimeter) multi-touch OLED (organic light emitting diode) screen with a pad on the back for "touch, grab, trace, push and pull" finger motions. The handset also has front and rear facing cameras.
Users will be able to use the device to watch videos, listen to music and connect to Internet sites and social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Its launch comes as Sony looks to increasingly monetize a vast catalogue of film, music and gaming content and give its hardware a competitive edge, analysts said.