That said, the NGP is then demonstrated, with dual cameras, motion-sensors, OLED screen and all the other tech specs that we are all already aware of.

"So, I'm very proud to showcase for the first time in North America, the successor to the PlayStation Portable," says Hirai. "PlayStation Vita. Or PSVITA for short."

"AT&T will be the exclusive carrier for PlayStation Vita in the United States," the Sony boss adds, with pricing and availability for the UK to be announced very soon.

PSVita has a "party" mode to allow users to chat with friends using the system. And an interesting-looking location-based service called Near, which shows you friends and "discoveries" in your vicinity.

Sony's Scott Rohde, VP of Worldwide Studios Product Development, then takes to the stage to demo the PSVita, with new levels from the forthcoming Uncharted: Golden Abyss from the developers at Sony Bend really showing off the HD graphics and touchscreen motion-control capability of Sony's new handheld.

Another new PSVita title, an action-RPG fantasy called Ruin, from Idleminds and Sony San Diego is then demonstrated, which will also be available on PS3 – with the ability to switch seamlessly between the game on your handheld or on your home console.

ModNation Racers for PS Vita looks cutesy and fun, with some interesting features, such as being able to draw your in-game racetracks by tracing your finger on the PSVita's touchscreen.

Cross-platform play between your PS3 and PSVita on titles such as Wipeout HD and LittleBigPlanet is clearly going to be a big deal for Sony over the coming year. Plus, it's not all about the first-party titles on the new handheld, with games such as Capcom's Street Fighter x Tekken shown off.

PSVita will be available this coming Christmas, priced at $249 in the US (for the Wi-Fi only model), with UK pricing still 'tbc' – but expect it to be at least £200 when it arrives in stores later this year.