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Sony reveals PS3 firmware 2.5, PSP firmware 5.0 details


Sony today announced the specifics of its forthcoming PS3 and PSP system updates, which will introduce a number of convenience features on the console front and (most notably) the PS Store on its handheld platform. We got an early look at what you can expect from the new firmware, which, although not specifically dated, Sony expects to release within the month.

PS3 firmware 2.5 introduces more detailed friends list information, including how long it has been since a friend signed onto PSN. The PS Store has been tweaked slightly to include a splash screen and an icon in the top right corner for inputting PSN Card and voucher codes directly from the storefront. Additionally, PSN sign-up and account management are no longer web-based in this firmware.

Support for the upcoming, official PS3 Bluetooth headset debuts in this firmware, as does the option to have the system automatically turn off once background downloads have completed. (Unlike Xbox 360, the PS3 does not go into a "low power" state when this option is selected.) The system's settings now include a "Power Saving" option, where users can choose to have their controller automatically turn off after 10 minutes of inactivity; the console can be set to auto-off after one, three, or five hours.

Sony has also included a new chapter thumbnail creation option for use during video file playback, with increments of one, two, and five minutes. The new firmware also includes hooks for developers to implement a screenshot function in their games; the feature will only work in games whose devs have implemented it via a new library. Read on past the break for details on PSP firmware 5.0.

PSP firmware 5.0 ushers in the PS Store for PSP. With the exception of a separate video storefront, it is functionally identical to the PS3's PS store, including the option to enter PSN Card numbers and voucher codes from within. The final content categories are still being finalized, but the build we tried featured sections for downloadable games, UMD Legacy games, themes, video, and music. SCEA isn't saying whether it plans to offer digital releases all future UMD-based games day-and-date via the service like SCE Japan is.

The rest of the PSP updates are fairly low-key. PlayStation Network now has its own spot on the PSP XMB, just as it does on PS3. (This is where the PS Store lives.) There's now a sleep timer function for music playback and a new XMB background theme – basically a two-tone version of the standard "plasma" effect – is available. PS1 titles played via PSP's video out can be viewed in full 4:3 size, devoid of the black border that surrounds PSP titles played on 4:3 and 16:9 displays.

We tried out the latest firmware on a PSP-3000 and were impressed by the soon-to-be-released handheld's refresh rate, low-glare screen, better contrast ratio, and imperceptible ghosting.

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