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What does Sony have in store for the next PlayStation?


Sony will take the wraps off a brand new video game machine today. Or at least, everyone expects the electronics giant to unveil the successor to the PlayStation 3 when it kicks off the mysterious and yet-to-be-explained event it's hosting at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City this evening.

Sony has invited the world's gaming press to attend what it is calling a "PlayStation Event" (which it teased earlier this month with a vague video). The event starts at 6 p.m. Eastern and the NBC News games team will be on hand to cover whatever happens.

Sony has long been rumored to be working on the next PlayStation, codenamed Orbis. (Some are calling this the "PlayStation 4," but of course, Sony has not confirmed the device, let alone the name.) But if the company does indeed show off its new machine this evening, it will signal the start of a whole new video games arms race.

Sure, Nintendo revealed its new home game machine — the Wii U — late last year, but it is Sony and Microsoft who are widely expected to go head-to-head in the coming years with powerful home consoles that leverage the Internet and online gaming in new ways. Microsoft is rumored to be working on the successor to the Xbox 360 (codenamed Durango). Perhaps in answer to Sony's opening volley, Microsoft is expected to unveil its own new console in the coming weeks or months.

As anticipation for Sony's PlayStation event has grown, so have the rumors and leaks reportedly revealing the specifications for this mysterious machine. Here's a quick look at what Sony could have in store for us if the information making the rounds proves to be accurate:

The next PlayStation will come in two models
Sony will unveil two PS models priced at $429 and $529, reports gaming news site, which got the information from a "reliable source." The source also says that Sony will launch the console in November — information that aligns with previous rumors and leaks.

You'll be able to control the next PlayStation with your phone or tablet
That same source also told Kotaku that players will be able to control the PlayStation with a smartphone or tablet. That is, you'll be able to use your phone to chat online with PS friends and to buy games which will then be downloaded to the console (the latter of which which sounds a bit like Microsoft's Xbox 360-interfacing SmartGlass app).

The next PlayStation will head to the cloud
Last year Sony bought cloud gaming service Gaikai so it doesn't exactly come as a surprise to hear rumors that Sony will use their new console to stream video games to your home.

Kotaku and a source that goes by the name Superannuation report that Sony has registered several domains based around the phrase "PlayStation Cloud." Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has reported that its own sources say the PlayStation 4 will stream games as a way to allow people to play PlayStation 3 games on the new machine.

The next PlayStation will come with a new controller
Last year we learned that Sony had patented a controller that splits into two. But the most recent rumors suggest that Sony will, instead, reveal a new game controller with a built-in touch-screen. Photos supposedly showing the redesigned controller have even been making the rounds. But whether they are prototypes, the final model or even legitimate remains to be seen.

The next PlayStation will record and share your gameplay
Edge has reported that its sources say the next Sony game machine will continually record the most recent 15 minutes of onscreen gaming for players to edit and then broadcast if they want. They also report that the redesigned controller will have a new "Share" button so players can share screenshots and video clips online.

The next PlayStation will be more powerful than the next Xbox
With Sony expected to go head-to-head with Microsoft, one of the big questions is which new machine will out-muscle the other. Though powerful specs are not the only thing that determines success in a video games arms race, it'll certainly be interesting to see which console has the beefier guts. And so far, rumors indicate that Sony will dominate in the power department with 50 percent more raw computational power than Microsoft's forthcoming machine.

Of course, we'll find out just how accurate some of these rumors and leaks are later today. Sony will be livestreaming its event right here starting at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET. Our own NBC News games team will be on hand at the event in New York as well. So stay tuned here to InGame where we will be bringing you the PlayStation news as it happens.

Winda Benedetti writes about video games for NBC News. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you can follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.