2008: The PlayStation Evolution
26th Jan 2008 | 12:03
Since the release of PSP, Sony's been about creating platforms that aren't just for gaming. Right now, both the PSP and PS3 are great for playing back movies, music, and displaying photos when you're taking a break from button-bashing madness. Here's how Sony plans to turn its PSP / PS3 combo into a real force to be reckoned with in 2008.
Sony has huge, on-going plans to evolve and enhance what both PlayStation platforms can do. It starts with PS3 becoming the centre of all your 'digital lifestyle' and feeding that down to the portable PSP. So much so that Sony hopes you'll be using a PlayStation branded product as part of your everyday life.
We're all in it for the games but with all these developments coming to our consoles, we're happy (and rather excited) to embrace whatever other developments Sony may have. Here's what we've got to look forward to in 2008.
PlayTV - TV tuner/recorder
Sony revealed at the Leipzig Games Convention last September its plans to turn PS3 into a digital TV receiver and recorder with the new PlayTV service.
Now, if you've got Sky Plus already you probably won't give a damn. But with the ability to pause live TV, and to record programs onto the hard drive for later viewing, PlayTV is a luxury that many of us will be looking forward to.
And for us gadget-loving types, it gets even cooler when you consider PS3's Remote Play connection with PSP. You'll be able to access all your PS3's recordings on your PSP via Wi-Fi internet, so you could be in India beaming the latest episode of Coronation Street to your portable. Isn't that your dream? You know it is.
This is big bananas for the PS3 as a platform too, though. The phenomenal success of PS2 was partly thanks to the legions of people who bought it simply to use as a DVD player - the uncles out there that considered the game-playing part a mere bonus.
Those same people will be picking up a PS3 for its affordable, upgradeable Blu-ray capabilities as the population converts to HD entertainment, and the inclusion of recordable digital TV is, for those people, another crucial reason to buy the console over a dedicated Blu-ray player.
Hopefully Sony will keep the price of the receiver nice and low, so it can appeal to those same people, who tend not to like buying add-ons for consoles. If you're interested in PlayTV, you've got to watch this movie.
Sony is taking its bloody time with this one, but it insists that the virtual world for PS3 has to be nothing short of perfect before it's released. Of course it won't be, but the firm's aiming high with this one.
Home is one of those things that, if done right, could have A-bomb-like impact on PS3, bringing the PlayStation community together with a level of virtual interactivity not available on any other console. It'll give PS3 owners their own virtual space that could become as precious to them as the MySpace and Facebook phenomenon of the internet. Sony wants it to be more of course, but one step at a time.
It could become the place you spend time in everyday, searching for new content, meeting other people and making Xbox Live feel like a relatively shallow, empty experience faced by nothing but menu screens.
Home could be incredible. But if done wrong - if it doesn't run smoothly, connect gamers the way it promises to, feature all the constantly-added content or be easily personalised - it could just become another ignored icon on your XMB menu.
First impressions though are extremely positive, and we can't wait to get our hands on it for ourselves. Here's hoping it doesn't turn into a breeding ground for sub-human behaviour. Like Xbox Live is becoming.
None of us have TomToms in our cars. It's got the worst name for a gadget ever, and the three-figure price tag is a lot to pay for fancy road maps that point you to the shops. They only end up getting stolen anyway.
So Sony unveils Go! Explore for PSP, which will be cheaper, smaller and more convenient than a dedicated machine. Suddenly we're a lot more willing to let the wonders of satellite navigation technology into our lives. In fact, we're actually looking forward to it.
PSP will become something that we'd actually carry around with us for its directional abilities. We're waiting to see the full service in action but having a UMD dedicated to London town or another European city could put an end to getting stung at dodgy restaurants because you couldn't find the one you wanted.
If GPS support isn't already good enough a reason to carry about your PSP everywhere, how about the ability to use it as a phone over the internet?
Skype, a free voice-over-IP (VOIP) program currently used by PC types, will allow PSP owners to contact each other for free, using a microphone attachment that'll come with the software. As long as you're in range of a Wi-Fi access point, you're good to chat as long as you like.
You can call real phones from it too, although that'll cost a little - but it should be reasonably cheap. The only major downer is that Skype will only work on PSP Slims. Owners of the older model - Sony's loyal early purchasers - will miss out on it completely, or be forced to make the upgrade. Thanks for that Sony.
Profile 2.0 Blu-ray support
A slightly less significant but nevertheless noteworthy part of PlayStation's evolution, particularly in 2008, is the expansion of PS3's Blu-ray playback abilities.
As we recently reported, it's ironic that not only is PS3 one of the cheapest Blu-ray players on the market, but it's also the only future-proof player.
Profile 2.0 Blu-ray features will be launched later this year, which will allow users to download new content for their films, including trailers, features and ringtones.
But most of the dedicated Blu-ray players on the market to date lack support for internet connection, rendering them completely incapable of supporting the internet-centred features of Profile 2.0.
So as you're downloading all the sweet Blu-ray content of joy on your PS3, you can laugh in the face of your rich uncle who bought a first-generation Blu-ray player for £1000 that can't do any of it.