Sony upgrades PlayStation Portable

Sony’s new PlayStation Portable handheld gaming and multimedia player is getting a makeover in the US. The device, which is due to launch in the UK on 12 September, now has Wi-Fi capability enabled to connect to the Internet through hot spots. As part of the upgrade it is now providing the device with a built in browser.

The upgrades are being made through a so-called Firmware Upgrade 2.0. Sony says that the new PSP Web browser provides access to a full range of Internet services including downloads, Internet searches and web based email accounts. It also says that it has addressed security concerns of transmitting data wirelessly through public hotspots via a new WPA-PSK (TKIP) security method. It has also implemented new parental control features.

Among other features implemented in the firmware upgrade is support for MP4 and WAV files, for the PSP music player, new video playback options and the TIFF, PNG, GIF and BMP image formats. Also the PSP can now use wireless image transfer between two PSP units via infrared in Ad-hoc mode. Sony says that the upgrade will encourage users to personalise their PSP to their own style and exchange images with each other.

The new features will also allow Sony to market a whole bunch of new content to PSP owners. The company says that consumers will be able to download PSP game trailers, film trailers, screenshots and videos from PlayStation events. They will also be able to access a dedicated PSP web site which will list all PSP games, UMD movies from major and independent movie studios, descriptions of downloadable content for PSP, PSP-related news articles, information on PSP accessories, and Help content and FAQs.

Not everyone has greeted the upgrade with open arms, however. The security features in the upgrade apparently limits the ability to run homebrew games. Many in the PSP community are being told to shun the firmware. However, there are already rumours that hackers have already got to work on the code and workarounds to allow homebrew apps to run on the device are expected soon.

At the time of writing Sony UK was unable to confirm that Firmware Upgrade 2.0 would be fitted as standard to the machines it plans to ship over here next month.

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