Hand-held device plays games, music, movies.

After a successful launch in Japan in December, Sony's PSP (PlayStation Portable) hand-held entertainment system will debut March 24 in North America.

Using Sony's proprietary 60mm-diameter, 1.8GB Universal Media Disc, the PSP will launch with games, movies and music videos. Replicated exclusively at Sony Disc Manufacturing in Terre Haute, Ind., the UMD stores more than three times the data than a CD-ROM.

The system initially will be available only as a PSP Value Pack for $249.99 suggested retail. The value-added package includes the PSP player, with its 4.3-inch, 16:9 widescreen movie ratio screen, plus digital photo display and digital music playback in both MP3 and ATRAC formats.

As a special retail promo, the first 1 million PSP Value Packs shipped will include a UMD video release of "Spider-Man 2" from Sony Pictures Entertainment.

In addition to SCEA game titles for the U.S. launch, Electronic Arts will have "NBA Street: Showdown," "NFL Street 2: Unleashed," "Need for Speed Underground Rivals, "Tiger Woods PGA Tour," "MVP Baseball" and "FIFA Soccer." Other third-party titles include Konami's "Death, Jr." and "Metal Gear Acid" and Namco's "Ridge Racers."

Fred Fox, executive VP of merchandising and marketing at Trans World, tells Billboard.biz, "If Sony can bring the PSP out at an affordable price, I think it will own the handheld market with its appeal to a much broader demographic because of functionality, and also have an impact on portable DVD player sales."

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