PS3 Firmware Upgrade

I really rather like the PS3. It is kind of growing on me. Late last week Sony released a firmware upgrade that made it even nicer. It adds quite a few nice features, including upscaling and the ability to fetch media from other devices.

I can remember when DVDs were the last word in quality. I suppose that compared to VHS video tape they probably still are. But these days we are used to bigger and better things. A lot of DVD players now have built in "upscaling" which attempts to take a standard DVD signal and convert it into one which will look OK on a high resolution display. This is a fraught business, in that the software has to add data where none was before, smoothing lines and filling in gaps when things move. Up until now the PS3 could play DVDs, but it couldn't upscale them. But now, with the firmware upgrade, it can. And it works too.

If you freeze the frame on an upscaled DVD the picture doesn't look that much better. But when the movie is running the effect is pretty impressive. I put on a high quality, action packed sequence (the car chase from Ronin) and the results were very good, to my eyes there is a significant improvement. Not as good as a proper HD source, but a good half way house, and good enough to stop me from re-purchasing all my DVDs in Blu-Ray (which is kind of a marketing own goal from Sony's point of view I suppose).

The PS3 can now also upscale old Playstation 1 and 2 games. First off I took my original Ridge Racer, bought with my PS1 all those years ago and popped that in to see what upscaling did. This was not quite as impressive, but then again each pixel was around a quarter of an inch square on the screen, so it was perhaps unlikely it would make much difference. I still enjoyed the race though. Yellow car, all the way.

My PS3 could see my media shares, and I managed to browse some folders but I ran out of time before I could get much going. They say you can also control your PS3 using a PSP via the Internet, but I've got to do some firewall fiddling to make that work. Maybe later.

Bottom line though, if you have a PS3 you really should upgrade the firmware. It takes around half an hour to download and install, but it is well worth the effort.