PSP 2.0 firmware update released in North America

After some initial delay, Sony has released its 2.0 firmware update for users of its PlayStation Portable (PSP) in North America. The software is downloadable through the Network Update feature on the PSP, and requires 16MB of free space on the PSP’s Memory Stick Pro Duo to download. It’s also available for download from Sony’s Web site, for transfer using a Mac or PC and manual installation.

The PSP 2.0 firmware was originally expected to be released on Friday, August 12th, but Sony announced a delay, revising the date to sometime during the week of the 15th. That date came and went without any release and PSP users were left to wonder where the update was . Sony has finally made good on their promise.

The new firmware update has been hotly anticipated by North American users of the PSP ever since its first introduction to Japanese users in late July. It introduces the ability to browse Web pages using the PSP’s built in Wi-Fi wireless networking support. Also added is support for H.264 (AVC) video playback, though Sony has thus far limited that support to clips that are available from its own P-TV Web site; support for TIFF, GIF, PNG and BMP image files; new music format support including WAV and unprotected AAC files, the ability to use digital photos and other artwork as “wallpapers” and support for WPA-PSK wireless security and more.

Perhaps most controversially, in the 2.0 firmware update Sony has also improved the PSP’s built-in security features to further thwart the efforts of “homebrew” programmers and emulation programmers. Since its introduction in Japan in December, 2004, the PSP has proven to be a popular platform for enthusiast programmers who want to run their own software on the platform. Sony does not sanction this activity and has actively attempted to thwart it by making changes to the PSP’s security technology with each firmware update that’s been released.

The primary use of the PSP is to play video games and movies sold on Sony’s proprietary Universal Media Disc (UMD) format. But a built-in USB 2.0 interface enables the PSP to work on a Mac or PC — its Memory Stick Pro Duo card is recognized as a mass storage device, and it recognizes digital media like music, photos and movies. Several Mac utilities have been created to offer PSP file transfer management capabilities, including iPSP, PSPWare and PocketMac for PSP; what’s more, existing applications like Elgato’s EyeTV software, Kinoma’s video conversion application Producer and Roxio’s forthcoming Toast 7 Titanium software have been updated to offer PSP video export capabilities.

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