The PlayStation4 is less than 18 months away, according to Australian site Smarthouse (registration required).
The site, which claims to be a "a highly successful trade only web site for resellers, solution providers and integrators selling lifestyle technology into the digital home market", writes:
A new Playstation 4 could be less than 18 months away according to a Sony insider. The device will include the same chipset as the current PS3 but where it will differ from the current model is in the drive bay and in the attachment area. It will also include an extensive software suite for the managing of content being streamed to a TV or Hi Fi source.
In addition Sony is working on improving the output experience so that the device can become a true home entertainment centre eliminating the need for a media centre. "We have even looked at a Sony home server based on Playstation technology. This would allow consumers to connect home automation devices to the Sony server while also delivering online gaming and access to an extensive movie and music library" said one Sony source.
Little more information is provided.
Most news sites have been highly sceptical of this rumour, like SPOnG who were told by Sony: "Obviously, this is garbage."
GamePro appears to slightly more convinced, though, noting some of the potential improvements:
This rumored "PS4" may act as the template behind a completely internet-driven gaming experience, and may successfully kill two of Sony's birds with one stone.
First, it would cut out the middleman by allowing Sony to distribute their games directly to consumers at a lower price, and second, it would eliminate Sony's other bane: the highly lucrative used games market.
Normally, a console is expected to have an active life of at least five years. Concerning the PS3, Sony exec Phil Harrison was confident enough only two months ago.
The fact that we could also adopt the pre-eminent next-generation movie format into PS3 was an added bonus, not an added cost. (...) Those are the decisions that are going to propel PlayStation 3 to be a platform that lasts for ten years, like we've seen with PS1 and PS2.
Any new PlayStation could not possibly change the combination of Cell and RSX chip, nor the Blu-ray drive (even though the changes in the ´drive bay´ are specifically mentioned). After all, why ditch something that took years and millions of dollars to develop? And if none of these factors will change, why call it a PlayStation4?
It is quite possible that Sony will bring another PS3 SKU to market soon. But I cannot imagine that version to be significantly different (or, consequently, any cheaper) than the existing models.
Source: Smarthouse (registration required)
Thanks to: SPOnG, GamePro, CVG