The Hottest Gadget
have been plenty of techie toys to get excited about in the past
year. Sleek Palm V computers became executive must-haves, while
kids downloaded music to portable MP3 music players and Japan went
gaga for Web-enabled iMode cellphones. But one gadget generated
a level of hysteria usually reserved for rock stars. On March 4,
thousands of sore-thumbed gaming aficionados camped out overnight
in Tokyo computer store doorways, jostling to be the first to own
Sony's next-generation videogame console the PlayStation 2.
One weekend later, almost one million machines had been sold. The
excitement can be attributed to the PS2's "Emotion Engine"
a chip 100 times more powerful than its predecessor's. But the PS2
is more than just a games machine. It also plays DVD movies (sales
and rentals of DVDs in Japan have spiked 300% since the PS2 launched),
and you can plug peripherals into it, just like a desktop computer.
You could hook up a digital camera, for example, and edit your pictures
on the TV.
More promising still, the PS2 can be connected to the Internet.
Sony is set to launch a broadband Internet service in 2001, opening
the way for multiplayer gaming and online services such as shopping
and entertainment. But don't start sleeping in doorways yet. The
PS2 is slated for release in the U.S. and Europe this fall, but
a firm date for its Asia-wide debut has yet to be announced.
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