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It's Time For A PSX Flashback

PSXKotaku has a wonderful little feature article that looks back on Sony's combination PlayStation 2/DVR/DVD recorder/etc. confusingly known as the PSX.  Released only in Japan, this expensive hybrid console could take just about any kind of Sony-approved media one could throw at it.  Released only in Japan in late 2003 for a wallet-busting ¥79,800 (that's $960 in modern money) for the model with a smaller hard drive, the console never found widespread traction and ultimately became a footnote in the PlayStation product line.

The PSX was a brave attempt by Sony to propel its PlayStation gaming brand from a cozy spot under the TV to being the focal point of an entire family's entertainment. It could play PS1 games. It could play PS2 games. It could record live television. It could play DVDs. It could play CDs. You could edit photographs. You could play games online. You could move stuff on and off your PSP. It could also edit audio, edit video, display photographs and even record DVDs.  All of which sounds amazing, but remember, half of that stuff could be achieved with a regular PS2 (which is essentially what half the PSX's insides were). The other half was...interesting, but in 2003 either too far ahead of its time or easily achieved in cheaper devices. 

The PSX was a flop in Sony's native Japan, and as a result was never commercially released outside of the country. If you want to focus on the negatives, you can point towards its exorbitant price and abundance of unnecessary features as forebears of the "$599" disaster that would strike the PS3 three years later. A sign that, even in 2003, Sony had begun to lose the plot a little.

The PSX was a mighty jack of all trades, but it was terribly ahead of its time and accordingly overpriced.  Sony was riding high on its own hubris for a good chunk of the '00s and it's surprising to me that the company never pursued an international release.  Had the Japanese release been a success, I bet they would have followed through.  I'm not saying that it would have been eagerly adopted, mind you; just that Sony would have tried to make it work.  Japan usually loves these convergence devices, too.  Nintendo and Panasonic teamed up early in the GameCube's life to create a hybrid game console and DVD player called the Q, and prior to that there was a Super NES / television combination created by Sharp known as the SF-1.  Sega basically never stopped combining Genesis hardware with other technologies in the '90s (Genesis-equipped CD players, Genesis-capable PCs, a Genesis-equipped Laserdisc player, etc.).  Sony's PSX was just a step too far for a price too high, it seems.

(Image via Wikipedia)