Sony on Thursday said it plans to update the Blu-ray technology in PlayStation 3, adding interactive features to movies played in the high-definition format.
Among the new features that will be added as a result of the upgrade to Blu-ray Disc Profile 2.0, which Sony calls BD-Live, will be the ability to download video content, ring tones, and games. BD-Live will be part of an overall system software update to the PS3.
The new Blu-ray features are included as part of an overall PS3 system update to version 2.20, which among other capabilities will enable photo and music playlists on PS3 to be copied to PlayStation Portable, Sony's handheld video game player. The latest refresh is part of Sony's effort to keep the PS3 platform evolving for long-term market growth.
"With these regular firmware updates and future-proofed technology, SCEA is making the 10-year life cycle of PS3 possible," Scott A. Steinberg, VP of product marketing for Sony Computer Entertainment America, said in a statement. SCEA, a division of Sony, is responsible for the PS3 in the United States.
BD-Live requires an Internet connection and at least 1 GB of local storage. The technology enables movie studios to offer a variety of downloadable content with Blu-ray DVDs, including bonus scenes, shorts, trailers, subtitles, and interactive movie-based games. Ring tones for mobile phones could also be made available.
In conjunction with the BD-Live release, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing April 8 two movie titles that will include exclusive downloadable content. The titles are Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and The 6th Day.
Apart from BD-Live, other new features in the system software upgrade include "resume play," which enables PS3 systems to start playing a Blu-ray DVD at the point it was stopped, even if the disc has been removed. This feature, however, will only work with Blu-ray discs formatted for the capability.
Other features include a remote play setting that enables PlayStation Portable to serve as a remote control for music played through PS3. In addition, PS3's Web browser has been enhanced to enable streaming of video files directly linked from a Web page, and the console also will be able to play DivX and WMV format videos larger than 2 GB.
Sony-backed Blu-ray has been adopted by the movie industry as the high-definition format of choice. One-time rival HD DVD, which had been backed by Toshiba, recently lost industry support in favor of Blu-ray. Movie studios and retailers chose Blu-ray in order to end consumer confusion over two competing HD formats, which the industry blamed for slow sales of high-definition content and players.