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Sony Talks PS3 Video Store & Firmware 3.0, PSPgo 'Minis'

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You'll probably not notice it in the inevitable imminent (over-)hyping, but announcing the PlayStation 3 Slim wasn't all Sony did on stage at Gamescom. Far from it, also mentioned were Firmware 3.0 for the PlayStation, ‘Minis' for the PSPgo, PlayStation Network cards, PlayStation Video Store, and a digital comic reader for the PSPgo.

Keeping it simple, here's what's worth talking about, by my reckoning at least.

PlayStation Network Cards

Simple name, simple explanation. Addressing what I expect were a large number of complaints that buying anything from the PlayStation Store requires using a card Sony is launching PSN Cards, in £20 and £50 denominations, which should pop up for sale at the usual retail locations soon enough. Once again kudos to Sony for using real monetary values, not random points - yes, that is a direct dig a Microsoft and Nintendo and yes they deserve it.

Firmware 3.0
I've long maintained that the XMB is a brilliant interface (and much better than the Xbox 360's) and Firmware 3.0 looks to be adding a fair bit of polish - no doubt ready to impress a new wave of PlayStation 3 owners come the launch of the Slim.

The main addition is called the "What's New" area, which will be what pops up on turning on your PS3. Here will sit both links to your latest played games as well as news about the latest going in the land of PlayStation, with links to the PlayStation Store and partner websites.

The ticker is being replaced with the Status Indicator which, while still showing the same RSS-gleaned news as the ticker, will also show information such as unread messages, how many friends are online. Friends lists are being tweaked too, with messages readable from friends' icons - at last!

Less amazingly, but still good both the Video and Games are getting Store links, with ‘hot' items highlighted with direct links, saving trawling thorough menus if you're into that sort of thing.

And last but not least, personalisation is being improved upon with a lot more avatars promised (some paid-for, some free) as well as dynamic themes being added, bringing animated backgrounds to the XMB. The latter look particularly cool but I imagine you'll need to check out the demo video at the PlayStation Blog to really ‘get' it.

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