Chris Nuttall Nintendo beats Sony on glasses-free 3D

Nintendo was showing off its 3DS handheld game console at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, begging the question of where was Sony’s 3D PlayStation Portable.

Sony made a point at its news conference that it was bringing 3D to the smaller screen, with products like the Bloggie camcorder, but a gaming machine was notable in its absence.

A new PSP is in the works, but, according to reports, the PSP2 will have a larger HD screen rather than a 3D one.

The specifications could change between now and launch, expected in the autumn, but Nintendo should have at minimum a clear six-month lead in next-generation handheld consoles.

The 3DS launches in Japan on February 26 and Nintendo aims to have shipped 4m worldwide by the end of March to meet expected demand.

Its estimates seem reasonable. Analysts have high hopes for this latest member of the DS family, which has sold more than 47m units in the US alone since the original’s launch in November 2004.

The US version of the 3DS will go on sale in March and Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo’s US president, will officially unveil it at an event in New York on January 19.

I spoke to him at CES about the health warning Nintendo has issued that children aged six and under should not use it in 3D mode.

“We wanted to be proactive in getting the word out,” he said.

“It’s really that the connection between the eyes and the brain is still developing and this is pretty standard protocol for 3D content – 3D TVs have a similar warning.

For those older than six, there is other cautionary advice:

“Our recommendation is you need to monitor your own healthfulness – if you’re feeling dizzy, you should stop and we’re also suggesting taking frequent breaks.”

The same health warnings may have to apply to other 3D mobile screens appearing. The In-Stat research firm predicted on Monday that handheld game consoles will account for 65 per cent of all 3D-enabled mobile devices shipments this year, with 3D-enabled smartphones almost catching up next year, representing 45 per cent of all shipments.

It looks like Sony will at least beat Nintendo in the phone department. A PlayStation Android phone from the Sony Ericsson joint venture is expected to be unveiled in the next few weeks.