Sony announced today that its PlayStation 3 is poised to take the next step in the evolution of the Blu-ray Disc format.
The firmware, due soon, will update the PS3 to Blu-ray Disc Profile 2.0, also referred to as BD Live. BD Live enables Internet-connected activities such as multiplayer gaming, e-commerce, downloading new content, and social networking.
BD Live impressed crowds earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, where Sony demonstrated downloading ring tones and new content to a BD Live player. Sony announced last October that the PlayStation 3 would support BD Live. Now, it appears that the PS3 will be the first Blu-ray Disc player to support this latest advancement in the Blu-ray format. Sony Electronics' own forthcoming BD Live-capable players aren't due out until this summer and fall.
Director of PlayStation Network Operations, Eric Lempel, revealed the news in his latest blog entry, ahead of the company sending out a press announcement.
The first titles to take advantage of BD Live are due out on April 8 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment: The 6th Day and Walk Hard--The Dewey Cox Story. The extent of the BD Live features on these titles remains unknown
Releasing this firmware update is a pretty cagey move on Sony's part. Since the PS3's release, frequent updates to the system have brought boatloads of needed features on-board--including the ability to upscale standard-definition DVDs.
Research and disc sales show that consumers are using the PS3 as a Blu-ray player. The PS3 played a role in the growing volume of Blu-ray disc sales, which in turn prompted Warner Brothers to back Blu-ray Disc exclusively at the start of the year. Warner's move led to the format war with rival HD DVD.
Other multimedia additions for the upcoming release include the ability to copy PlayStation 3 Music and Photo playlists to a PSP system (previously, you could create Music and Photo playlists on the PS3, but couldn't export them to a PSP). Another feature for PSP users: turn your PSP into a remote control, for playing back music files on your PS3 without turning on your TV. You can also play long DivX and .WMV format files (over 2 GB).
Disc playback has been enhanced, to allow resume play: You can pick up where you left off on a DVD or BD disc, even if you've ejected the disc and inserted a different movie or game in the interim.
Finally, Sony says the PS3's Internet browser now displays some Web pages faster. You can also save file files locally or to external storage media via the PS3 Web brower.