Well, that was kind of underwhelming.
It stands for "Next Generation Portable," which seems more like a description of the thing than an actual name. In all fairness, this may just be a working codename, like the Wii originally being called the "Revolution," before Nintendo announced the name would be "Wii" and everyone started making pee jokes; or when Microsoft's new motion control technology was called "Project Natal," before we were told it would be named "Kinect" and everyone said, "No, really, what are you planning to call it?"
This replacement for the PSP, whatever it winds up being named (I'm personally in favor of calling it the Frumious Bandersnatch, but do people very take my advice? No. Actually, that's probably for the best.) certainly specs out like a fine piece of next gen hardware.
I've said some remarkably uncharitable things about Sony over the years, to the point where they finally stopped sending me product, or giving me information, or braking if they see me crossing the street, so I'll just point you at the roundup of coverage over at Joystiq to fill in the sordid details.
The big picture is this: it appears to be a powerful system that is attempting to take on both Nintendo and the entire mobile gaming market at the same time. The big news is the 5-inch screen, which has four times the resolution of the current PSP, as well as a touchscreen. There is also a touchpad on the rear of the device, as well as dual analog sticks and six-axis motion control developed for the Move. All of these features are squarely aimed at capturing a piece of the app market.
Oh, and then there's the other stuff: WiFi, Bluetooth, and ... 3G, plus a GPS. Front- and back-facing cameras, flash-memory support, stereo speakers and microphone, all wrapped around a nougaty center made of an ARM Cortex-A9 4 core processor makes this a beast, in theory. Speculation is running high about how Sony can possibly get this device to market at a reasonable price. GameStop has already speculated that it may cost $1000, but that's just their guess.
Sony has a habit of floating their flights of design fancy just around the time a competitor announces or launches a product. In this case, the release is timed to take the wind out of the sales of the Nintendo 3DS by promising a Swiss-army knife of mobile gaming, but what's the actual reality behind the NGP?
The PS3 was going to be the all-powerful Xbox/Nintendo killer, and the reality was ... not really so much.
The Move was going to be the all-powerful Wii-mote/Kinect killer, and the reality was ... not really so much.
The NGB might be all things to all people, but somehow I don't think Apple, Nintendo, or the Android producers are all that worried right now.
In other Sony news ...
There's going to be a PSP phone, and engadget.com says they have their little mitts on one. The device will probably be called the Xperia Play, and looks like a mashup of a PSP with a Sony Ericcson handset.