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Sony likely to unveil next PlayStation in New York on Feb. 20

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Sony is poised to unveil the next PlayStation game console on Feb. 20, a date that would give the Japanese electronics company a head start over Microsoft's expected announcement of an Xbox 360 successor in June.

Sony Corp. invited journalists to an evening press event in New York City. The company has not said what it plans to show off, but signs indicate that it'll be the PlayStation 4. Sony would only say that it "will deliver and speak about the future PlayStation business."

Such a console would follow Nintendo's Wii U, which launched last fall, and precede Microsoft Corp.'s next Xbox game console, which will likely be unveiled in June at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said it's a "super smart" move for Sony to pre-empt Microsoft. This way, the PlayStation 4 will get the spotlight without much competition.

The currently available PlayStation 3 went on sale in 2006, a year after the Xbox 360. But Xbox 360 has been more popular, largely because of its robust online service, Xbox Live, which allows people to play games with others online. The Wii is still the top seller among the three consoles, though it has lost momentum in recent years.

The Wii U was the first of the newest generation of video game consoles to launch, but sales so far have been disappointing. Nintendo Co.'s president, Satoru Iwata, acknowledged recently that the Wii U and the handheld Nintendo 3Ds didn't do well over the holidays, but he ruled out a price cut for the new console.

All three console makers are trying to position their devices as entertainment hubs that go beyond games as they try to stay relevant in the age of smartphones and tablet computers. Such hubs can deliver TV shows, movies and music. The Wii U has a TV-watching feature called TVii. With it, the console's touch-screen GamePad controller becomes a remote control for your TV and set-top box. TVii groups your favourite shows and sports events together, whether it's on live TV or an Internet video service such as Hulu Plus. And it offers water-cooler moments you can chat about on social media.

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