PlayStation 3 will use the Blu-ray Disc format, while a new, slimmer PlayStation 2 will go on sale internationally early in November, Sony announced today.

Sony is considering making the PlayStation 3 compatible with the dual-layer 54GB Blu-ray Disc ROM and also smaller versions, for example the 25GB capacity disc, according to a Sony spokeswoman.

The use of Blu-ray Disc will help push the format, touted as a successor to DVD, into the market, according to Sony spokesman Taro Takamine.

"Historically, PlayStation helped DVD penetration, and the new PlayStation using the Blu-ray Disc format means that there is very, very strong support for Blu-ray," he said.

While the release date of PlayStation 3 has yet to be officially announced, analysts and industry watchers believe the game console will be in shops by the middle of 2006.

Meanwhile, Sony is releasing six smaller, lighter versions of its PlayStation 2 game console. Two versions will be available in North America on November 1, as will one version for Europe, one for Australia and New Zealand, and one for the UK. A Japanese version will go on sale on November 3, Sony said.

The retail price for the US market is $149.99, and for the European market €149 (around £100), according to a company statement. Sony is not yet disclosing the price of the new PlayStation 2 for Japan.

The internal volume of the PlayStation 2 has been reduced by about 75 per cent for the new versions, and its overall weight has been halved. The new models are 230-x-152-x-28mm. They use the same DVD discs as the existing models, but now each has an Ethernet port for network gaming, the company said.

The North American models also have a modem port, but the other versions don't. The Japanese model weighs about 900g, according to the company

Sony expects around 80 online game titles will be available for the PlayStation 2 in Japan, with 120 titles in the US and 65 titles in Europe.