It’s been nearly a full decade since the former video game development giant SEGA has released hardware of any kind into the market. The last console was the Dreamcast, which despite being a strong system with good games, was beat into the ground by Sony’s Playstation 2 a year after the Dreamcast was released. Sadly, the console was discontinued a few years later, and SEGA has since survived merely as a third-party publisher for software and games.

Now it seems SEGA’s renewed strength as a software publisher has given it enough of a confidence boost to try and test the waters of hardware production yet again. SEGA announced the release of a new portable media player called the Vision PMP.

The new handheld will actually be less of a portable game player, and more of a multimedia device. It will only be able to play Java-based games, but will also function as a TV tuner, a movie and music player, a video camera and recording device, as well as an eBook reader. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it very well may be. The design of the Vision is bulkier than both the PSP and Nintendo DS, and looks more like it’s failed handheld elder brother, the SEGA Nomad. We also have not heard about a price tag to go along with the portable player, and I can tell you that many people probably won’t bother with it unless the price is right.

Regardless, 2009 does mark a significant date for SEGA as its return to the hardware industry after being in the proverbial darkened corner of the video game scene for so long. Will it be a taste of things to come, or a complete bust?