The PlayStation 3 has received many an update throughout its life cycle, and now we've finally reached the magic number of version 4.0. The new update isn't as hefty as users might expect, but it does bring one huge feature to the PS3 (no, not cross game voice chat): PlayStation Vita connectivity.
Firmware 4.0 will allow PS3 owners to use their system as a media hub for the PlayStation Vita. Gamers will essentially have the same features between the Vita and PS3 as they did between the PSP and PS3. Players can move content like movies, music and photos between the two devices, and back up games and saved data to the PS3 hard drive - which should come in handy for those who aren't able to afford one of the Vita's pricey memory cards.
One very interesting feature is the ability to update the Vita's software through the PS3 itself, meaning those of you without access to WiFi can finally update your handheld without having to complete the slightly convoluted download process at the PlayStation website.
Some are probably wondering why Sony would release this update now when the PlayStation Vita doesn't hit North American stores until February. Well, the reason is of course that the Vita launches in Japan on the 17th of December. The handheld is region free for those of you who can't wait to play it, but Sony World Wide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida doesn't recommend importing.
Obviously there are plenty of people out there who aren't interested in the Vita, and they are likely wondering what this update has in store for them. Unfortunately, if you're not a PlayStation Plus member, there's nothing much to gawk at. Plus members will now have the ability to choose what the automatic update feature uploads, meaning those who only want to download patches can do so without their PS3 automatically uploading saves or syncing trophies.
The only other addition that comes with firmware 4.0 are some changes to filtering messages and friends requests, though these were not detailed so unfortunately we won't find out how they work until the firmware goes live. Admittedly, it's a bit unfortunate that Sony didn't add something greater to 4.0 -- it's been a while since the PS3 has seen an update like the one that enabled an in-game XMB -- but at this point it's still better to get a few features than a firmware update that does nothing noticeable.
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Source: PlayStation Blog