Friday, December 21, 2007

Playstation 3 firmware 2.1 review


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So the new firmware released this week. This update brings the long waited Blu-ray Profile 1.1 support, divx (xvid) and wmv (VC-1) playback capability in conjuction with some other small changes. It's a huge update for users who use PS3 mainly as a media center.

1. Video:

Blu-ray Profile 1.1 brings Picture in picture commentary and blu-wizard. Picture in picture commentary is basicly that the machine is required to be able to decode two video and audio streams simultaneously.

Here's how it looks:

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This is a cool feature. But personally after I watched couple HD-DVDs with the same feature (universal's U-control), it's rather boring. I would prefer the old styled separate of the features from the main movie... The first Blu-ray disc has the PIP is Resident Evil: Extinction. The above image is from

Another feature profile 1.1 brings is the Blu-wizard, or whatever the studios like to call it. It has the ability to "remember" where you left off, and continues to play from there even if you take the disc out, power off the machine, then resume watching say three months later. This is achieved by storing the data on the machine. So here is the new BD Data Utility folder firmware 2.1 adds.

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Adding divx & xvid playback capability was announced about one month ago, so it's no surprise to see it in this new update. (Actually Microsoft's XBOX 360 achieved this feature on its recent update too.) There are some restrictions on how the divx/xvid files though. First, the files can NOT be bigger than 2G, it's said to be due to the licence SONY acquired from divx company. Second, files encode with divx 3.11 can NOT be played. Third, pixels cannot be divided by 16 can NOT be played based on some users' inspection. Fortunatately, the files I've tested all played back fine! They are all streamed from PC using TVerstiy. I believe the current TVersity still think that PS3 cannot play raw divx/xvid files, thus try to convert them. My solution is to turn off the transcode here.

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Lust Caution... Wasted my 2.5 hours just to watch an adult movie...Disappointed

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Bourne played fine. Better yet the XMB recognise Dolby Digital and output as bitstream so that my receiver output the original DD5.1 surround sound!

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Sayonara zetsubou sensei also plays fine, this is the only "HD" video out of the 3 I've tested. Although it has 1280*720 res, the bitrate is rather low. I'm curious how high bitrate PS3 can support.

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As I have tried stage6 in the PS3's browser, it cannot play any videos like youtube. I think the browser needs the divx plug-in which somehow SONY haven't added it yet. I wish some day they could have that, then we can watch some kick-a$$ quality video, or maybe even downloading to hard drive?? (youtube is just way too pathetic, I highly recommend stage6 for those who have fast internet)

Adding WMV & VC-1 playback is a liitle bit of surprise though. But think about it, since Blu-ray supports VC-1, it might be not very hard to enable this function in the XMB. I've got only one HD quality wmv video to check out, fortunately it plays. There are users report PS3 plays wmv3 and VC-1 encoded videos only, and audio has to be wmv2 or something like that or it will just report unsupported data...

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2. Music:

Yes, firmware 2.1 also brings improvements on music. It adds a new bitmapping type, Type 3, which suppose to optimize the music playback specific to Playstation 3. I cannot tell the difference, but I think I'll stick with Type 3 from now on...

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An unexpected, but yet the coolest thing I've ever seen in this update is the earth Visualization. Now there's some reason to listen to music on PS3, just to watch the earth rotating could get me very excited...

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Here's how the earth visualization looks like:

FlashDetection.handleEmbedCode("63a9cbae-02aa-4ead-8857-0fa06b5ded6e", '\x3cembed src\x3d\x22http\x3a\x2f\\x2fv\x2fvduzOYYto8g\x26amp\x3brel\x3d0\x26amp\x3bborder\x3d0\x22 width\x3d425 height\x3d355 type\x3d\x22application\x2fx-shockwave-flash\x22 wmode\x3dopaque pluginspage\x3d\x22http\x3a\x2f\\x2fgo\x2fgetflashplayer\x22 allowscriptaccess\x3dnever allownetworking\x3dinternal\x3e', 'http\x3a\x2f\\x2f00.0.0000.0000\x2fWeb\x2fimages\x2fnoflash.gif');

Some stills I took...

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3. Folding Home version 1.3:

There's also a separate update on folding home shorly after the firmware 2.1 released. More about folding, see HERE. One thing is that any computer, windows/linux/mac will do, you don't need a PS3 to do folding... The new functions include play music while folding and automatic shutdown.

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It can now play music while folding, but I'm not sure how the machine can distinguish the mood/type of music...

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Automatic shutdown can be based on project or specific amount of time.

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So many people doing folding in US...

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