Sony is rolling out a new PlayStation Portable, which is code-named the NGP, with a 5-inch screen, wireless connectivity and much more.

The screen is double that of smart phones, and Sony says the NGP will offer the quality of an at-home console for players on the go.

Features of the new device include as listed by Sony at its PlayStation blog:

• Multi-touch 5-inch organic light emitting display (OLED) as the front display
• Multi-touch pad on the rear of the device
• Dual analog sticks
• Two cameras (front and rear)
• Software titles on small, dedicated flash memory-based cards
• Three motion sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass
• Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity
• PlayStation Network access, including “LiveArea™”, “Near” and “Activity” log features Trophy Support
• NGP will be able to play PSP titles, minis, PS one classics, video and comics from the PlayStation Store.

(Read here for more about technical features.)

The new device is Sony’s counter to a potential threat from Apple’s mobile devices, such as the iPad, and also to compete with Nintendo’s DS handheld device.

Thje NGP comes packed with motion sensor and GPS location technology so that gamers can tilt and sway the machine to play golf games, kill monsters and experience other “virtual realities,” said Kazuo Hirai, who heads Sony Corp.’s gaming section.

It has a touch panel in the front and touch pads in the back to allow players to tap on the machine to move images, in addition to the usual buttons and switches.

Also provided is a third-generation wireless connection plus the already available WiFi, allowing for more social networking and downloads. Its five-inch screen is OLED — a different technology from liquid-crystal display — for good color and image quality about four times better than the current PSP.

Sony said gamers will be able to experience games they had been playing on the PlayStation 3 home console without any drop in quality.

Sony did not give a price, regional release plans or other details.

Later this month, Nintendo plans to offer a new portable DS with glasses-free 3-D features.

U.S. software maker Microsoft Corp. is another major player with its Xbox 360 home console, but it does not make a portable. Microsoft has a cell phone business with its Windows Phone 7 software for games and other entertainment on smart phones.

PlayStation Portable sales have been dropping — by as much as 37 percent last year to about 2.7 million for April-September from 4.3 million the same period the previous year.

By contrast, Apple sold 16.2 million iPhones during the October-December quarter alone.

More than 64 million PlayStation Portable machines have been sold cumulatively around the world since it went on sale in December 2004.

Yuji Fujimori, an analyst with Barclays Capital in Tokyo, says it’s too early to assess what Sony has in the works.

In the long run, game consoles may disappear altogether as games and social networking have arrived on smart phones and other devices, he said.

“Sony’s message is more about keeping rival Nintendo in check,” said Fujimori.

Nintendo nine-month net profit tumbles 74 percent

Also Thursday, Nintendo reported that nine-month profit tumbled 74 percent as weaker sales of the Wii console and a strong yen battered its bottom line.

The lackluster results led the company to slash sales expectations for its video game devices and underscores a rocky year for the creator of the Super Mario franchise.

The Kyoto-based company faces waning consumer demand for its game machines and new challenges — from Apple’s iPhone and rival Sony — as well as a stubbornly strong yen, which shrinks the value of overseas profits.

Last fall, Nintendo slashed earnings forecasts after announcing that its new 3DS game machine wouldn’t be ready for the holiday shopping season. It then reported a first-half loss — its first since 2003.

Get the latest news alerts: Follow LTW at Twitter.