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The new "Pixels" theme gives the XMB a neo-retro feel

The "Nature" theme makes the XMB seasonal

The Information Board feature sits under the Network section

Loading up the Information Board

Information Board provides a news feed with the latest PlayStation happenings  (Source: SCEE)
New PS3 software adds themes, news feed, progressive video downloading, custom playlists, web filters, PSP Remote Start and more

Just shy of its one year launch anniversary, the PlayStation 3’s system firmware has jumped a full version number. New features in version 2.0 include remote play, unlimited playlists, more Xross Media Bar customization and more.

Those with PSPs can make use of the improvements to the Remote Play linkage between the handheld and the PS3. With the latest firmware for both systems, PSP users have the ability to turn their PS3 on and off from a Wi-Fi connection, adding the opportunity to listen to the music, look at the photos and watch the videos saved on the PS3 hard drive from anywhere in the world.

Version 2.0 also improves upon the PS3’s functions as a media player. The new firmware allows users to create custom playlists for its music and photos – a feature that will be handy for those using the PS3 as a slideshow creator or digital music player.

Another new feature, which was first seen in the PSP 3.70 firmware, is support for custom themes. Previous PS3 firmware allowed the user to select a custom background, but the latest firmware allows for changes in color, brightness, font and the overall look for the XMB.

According to the video demonstration made by Eric Lempel, Sony’s director of PlayStation Network operations, new themes will be available for download tailored to certain gaming and non-gaming motifs. Likely this means that PSN will be mirroring Xbox Live’s use of themes, with somebeing free and the others available for a small charge.

Three sample themes are now ready for download and can be placed on a memory card or USB device for installation. While not yet officially supported by SCEA, Sony of Japan has released a tool to allow users to create their own themes.

As first seen in the 1.94 firmware update, which was included with the game Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, today’s firmware update also has support for force-feedback controllers. The PS3 appears unable to distinguish between a SIXAXIS and DualShock 3 controller, so those curious may press the PS button on any PS3 controller to view the new vibration toggle option.

No longer will those who download trailers and other videos from the PSN have to wait until the transfer is complete to view the content. A new progressive download feature allows the user to view a video as it is being downloaded from the PlayStation Store.

The new update also introduces Trend Micro web security for the console, allowing parents to block the viewing of inappropriate sites from the PlayStation Internet Browser.

The most noticeable addition for PS3 owners is the new Information Board, which adds a panel onto the XMB interface with expandable items on the latest PlayStation news. The new firmware may now be obtained using the PS3’s network update feature or downloaded directly from SCEA’s Network Update page.





"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
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