Sony firmware updates are a mixed bag. Additional functionality spoilt by lashings of extra DRM tends to be the typical recipe and while version 2.6 isn’t particularly different, it has brought an exciting development.
No, it isn’t the RSS channel added to the ‘Network’ menu, or the volume adjustment option in the LocationFree player control panel. Even WMA compatibility comes a distant second, because Sony has opened up the potential for streaming TV.
A little techy line is what gave the game away, in which the proprietary King revealed it would be allowing content providers’ copyright protected videos to be downloaded onto the console’s Memory Stick Duo flash memory cards. There is a site to get content too: Sony Portal TV, a rental service which has a database of TV shows, music videos, trailers and more. Costs range from $1-3 which is reasonable, though they only last for a maximum of two weeks before the infamous DRM kicks in and renders them unplayable.
The downside to all of this is that the service is currently only available in Japan for the time being. As usual, Sony is keeping its mouth polyfiller tight about the possibility of any expansion into the Europe and Yank Land, but if Portal TV takes off it is clearly destined for these shores. If it doesn’t, it was obviously naff and we didn’t want it anyway… ;)