Sony Corp. this week said the new Playstation Vita will be region-free to allow users to play games from worldwide territories.

Hardware manufacturers typically impose region locks for console or handheld devices in order to preserve content designated for specific territories.

In addition, the company said the PS Vita will include less intrusive firmware updates than the Playstation 3 or PSP.

Sony in Sept. said the Playstation Vita will be sold Dec. 17 in Japan.

In addition, Japan consumers can pre-order the new handheld beginning Oct. 15.

A U.S. release is planned for 2012.

The PS Vita will include dual analog sticks, a 5-inch multi-touch OLED display, 3G & GPS, front and rear touch panels, and a compass on three axes. It will utilize flash-memory game cards.

The Wi-Fi only model will sell at $249.99. The 3G model will sell at $299.99.

Hardware specifications include an ARM Cortex A9 4-core CPU, front camera, rear camera, built-in microphone, and Bluetooth 2.1.

The company will partner with AT&T to allow current customers to access Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide.

The PS Vita Party mode will allow users to chat with nearby owners. In addition, near will allow users to play with friends using their PSN ID.

Sony in Aug. released the Limited Edition PSP Sports Entertainment Pack at $159.99.

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