Sony has released verison 1.8 of its PlayStation 3 firmware, adding the capability to upscale PlayStation 3 games, older PS2 and PSOne titles, and standard DVDs to 1080p resolution. The idea is to enable PS3 owners with high definition displays to apply the added resolution and display capabilities to their standard-definition games and content: to be sure, upscaling doesn’t magically convert standard-definition video into a high-def extravaganza, but (done well) it can make standard definition content look less paltry alongside true HD material. Upscaling games requires connecting to a display using either component or HDMI, while upscaling DVD titles is only supported via HDMI.
But 1080p upscaling isn’t the only feature Sony is adding to the PS3 with the version 1.8 firmware. Once installed, the PS3 will be able to play back media content from a Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) compatible computer, DVR, or other device on a home network. Adding DLNA connectivity enables PlayStation 3 owners to stream media from their personal computers—just like Xbox 360 owners can—but expands that universe to include a number of consumer electronics devices and systems (even Macs!).
The 1.8 firmware update also adds a Remote Play feature for PSP handheld units, enabling PSP users to access music, video, and photos on a PS3 hard drive. Sony promises the next PSP firmware update—version 3.5, due next week—will extend that capability, enabling PSP owners to connect back to their home PS3s from any Wi-Fi hotspot.
The version 1.8 firmware update is free; PlayStation 3 owners can install the new firmware by selecting System Update while connected to the Internet. Users can also download the update using a PC and install it using memory cards or a USB mass storage device. Sony will also offer the update on an upcoming game disc.