PlayStation Portable Set for March Release

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Sony Corp. said Thursday it will release the PlayStation Portable in North America on March 24 and have 1 million units ready for sale in the first week.

The PSP game machine, a challenger to Nintendo (news – web sites) Co.’s long-standing grip on the handheld video gaming market, will be sold as a “value pack” for $249 in the United States and $299 Canadian dollars. It will include numerous accessories and a copy of the “Spider-Man 2” movie on the new Universal Media Disc format that Sony designed for the PSP.

Sony said it has already shipped 800,000 PSPs in Japan, where it went on sale on Dec. 12 for about $190.

By comparison, Nintendo’s newest product, the Nintendo DS sells for $150. It was among the must-have Christmas gadgets, with 1.5 million sold worldwide since its release in late November.

The PSP is designed, however, with more multimedia features. It can play digital music, movies and display photos on its 4.3-inch color display, using Sony’s proprietary 1.8-gigabyte UMD discs or a Memory Stick.

Sony said 24 game titles will be available around the time of the launch with prices starting at $40 each.