PSP 2.0 Firmware update -- 10 days late and counting

Ten days after initially saying it would be ready, Sony has yet to release the promised North American version of the 2.0 firmware update for its PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld gaming console. Already available in Japan, the 2.0 update provides North American PSP users with Web access, support for new media types and security enhancements.

First introduced in North America in March, Sony’s PSP plays games and views movies. It stores saved game information on a Memory Stick Duo Pro card, and can also use that card to view digital photos, movies and listen to digital music. The PSP can also connect to a Mac or PC using a built-in USB 2.0 interface.

Several Mac applications have risen up to take advantage of this USB connectivity, including iPSP, PSPWare and PocketMac for PSP. And because the PSP can view video downloaded from computers, Elgato’s EyeTV software and Kinoma Producer have also added PSP export support.

The 2.0 firmware update was released in late July in Japan. It adds a built-in Web browser that allows PSP users to view Web pages using the PSP’s built in Wi-Fi wireless networking support.

Also new in the 2.0 release is a Wallpaper feature, new graphic format support, support for unprotected AAC and WAV audio files, and support for H.264 (Advanced Video Codec)-compressed video — though it appears dependent on specific decoders only Sony provides.

Sony also improved security in the 2.0 release to further thwart the efforts of “homebrew” coders and emulation programmers, who had managed to get their own software code working on the platform in earlier releases. WPA-PSK wireless security was also added to the 2,0 release.

PSP firmware can be updated by one of three methods: Using the Network Update option from the PSP’s interface; downloading it to a Mac or PC, copying it to the memory card and running it; or running it from a UMD disc. Some impatient North American customers have downloaded the 2.0 update from Sony’s Japanese Web site and installed it using a computer, although Sony advises against that move.

In early August, Sony stated plans to release the 2.0 firmware update for North American users on August 12th. That day came and went with no sign of the firmware release, and Sony soon posted to its message boards revised plans to release it the week of August 15th.

By the end of last week, forlorn North American PSP users suspected Sony’s plans to release the firmware update had once again gone awry. The company remains tight lipped about its newest PSP 2.0 release plans — in e-mails to customers, the company’s support staff advises users to simply check Sony’s Web site for look for details on the new release once it’s available. But so far, that page remains at version 1.52, a firmware update released in June.

In a posting to Sony’s Web site discussion board, Sony has noted that the Firmware 2.0 update will be released “during the week of August 22nd.” This revised date was made to the same post that previoulsy offered the week of August 15th as the release date.

Updated 7:55 PM 08/22/05: Updated with revised date via Sony’s discussion board.

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