Console watch: PS3 Price Drop, Nintendo's New "Wii Minus," PS Vita To Have 512MB of RAM

Sony has confirmed the specs on the company's upcoming PlayStation Vita handheld. The new device will use an OLED screen at a resolution of 960x544. The system will use a quad-core variant of the same dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2 that powers Apple's iPad 2 with 128MB of dedicated VRAM and 512MB of main system memory. It's a significant step forward compared to the PSP.  Sony is holding firm on the $249 entry price, despite the Xperia Play's failure to catch on at market and the 3DS' own price cut.

Sony's marketing indicates that this is somehow a desirable outcome. We don't get it either

The $249 price point for Vita is a bit stranger given that Sony has just cut the price on the PS3 to $250. The President and CEO of SCEA, Jack Tretton, writes: "While others in the space are losing steam, PlayStation 3 is gaining momentum... Today, I believe that value becomes even more evident. I’m excited to share with you that effective immediately at retailers throughout North America, the 160 GB PS3 and the 320GB PS3 are now available for $249 and $299, respectively. In addition, a limited edition inFAMOUS 2 bundle is now available at participating retailers across North America. The bundle retails for $299 and includes a 320 GB PlayStation 3, a copy of inFAMOUS 2 and a 30-day membership to PlayStation Plus.

Tretton's comments on the PS3 "gaining momentum" compared to its competitors may reflect a drug habit that's spiraling out of control. Recent NPD data suggests that Sony sold 148,000 PS3's in July compared to 277,000 XBox 360s and 190,000 Wiis. All three manufacturers took a beating, with sales falling by 46 percent, 45 percent, and 30 percent compared to June and down 31 percent, 38 percent, and 25 percent year-on-year. July was the worst month for PS3 sales in the past two years; the only good thing we can say about the company's results is that they're in line with the industry's terrible performance.

Finally, there's news of a new, slightly dumbed down Wii console on the way; Kotaku has aptly dubbed the newcomer the "Wii Minus." The official Nintendo Magazine notes that the new console will be slightly smaller than the current version and will be designed to sit horizontally rather than standing vertically. The bundle will include a Wii Remote Plus controller + nunchunk, but the new console will not support GameCube titles or controllers.

It's disappointing to see Nintendo following Sony's lead on removing console features, but the Wii Minus's new internals could be quite interesting. Over the past five years, both Microsoft and Sony have released multiple new consoles featuring CPUs and GPUs built on the latest process technology. Nintendo, by all accounts, hasn't—the Wii of 2011 still uses the same 90nm process for its CPU and GPU that the console did when it debuted in 2006.

The redesign could signal a shift to 40nm production. The console currently sells for $149; Nintendo could be clearing the way for a further price cut when the Wii Minus launches, or may simply be looking to improve its product margins. Company PR reps have attempted to classify the upcoming Wii as a UK product only, but we're not buying that—after five years, there's no reason why Nintendo would finally overhaul the console, only to keep the finished product in the United Kingdom.