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10 Steps to Perfect PS3 Firmware

Article: The Ten improvements we want the most

Just in case you haven't twigged yet, PlayStation 3 is a constantly evolving console. Sony's Cross Media Bar (XMB) dashboard is fast, easy to use, packed with features and looks cool as cucumber, as our parents might say. Still, it's far from perfect or complete.

Thanks to Sony's regular firmware updates, new features are added to the console on an almost monthly basis - some pushing the PS3's capabilities further, others just catching up to what Xbox 360 can do already.

Playing catch-up in the online arena is what gets most people talking though and in-game friends lists and messaging are easily the most commonly requested features. But there are numerous other issues Sony could work on for the XMB. Here are our top ten improvements we hope to see made into reality at some point this year.

In-game friend list access

This is what everyone is shouting out for - the ability to access your friends list without having to quit your game. As is stands, the PS3 will tell you when you receive a message, or when a friend logs on, but you can't interact with them unless you quit your game and go back to the XMB.

Xbox 360 owners can, at any time, call up a list of friends, see what they're playing, voice or text message them or check out their games collection. PS3 owners can't. That's a massive oversight in the age of social, online gaming. Quite frankly, fixing this should be at the top of Sony's priority list.

We should also point out that there are mummers coming from CES that Sony has confirmed in-game XMB access for an upcoming firmware update. Let there be light!

Online Game Invites

Xbox Live is renowned for making online gaming ultra-intuitive so even monkey and grannies can understand the concept. You set up a game, you send an invite and within seconds you're shooting mates in the face or kicking balls at their behinds.

PS3 forces (or 'farces') you to go through friends filters and find which server your mate is on. It's workable, but nowhere near as simple as it could be. We just want to highlight a mate's name and hit 'Square' to summon them to a game. And we want them to be able to jump into our game automatically just by inserting the relevant disc of needed, and accepting the invite. Call us demanding, if you want. But it needs to happen soon.

Multiple sound outputs

PS3 has more sound output options than Richer Sounds. This is great, but the PS3 will only kick out sound through ONE of its outputs at a time.

This means that if you sometimes use optical output for surround sound, and other times you settle for sound out of your TV (late at night, for example) you have to manually set that up. Why? We dunno. Xbox, Xbox 360 and even PS2 puts out sound from both optical and composite outputs at the same time, all the time, so you don't have to mess about with options. Just turn on your gadgets and play!

iPod recognition

The PS3 only has a 60GB hard drive. That used to be loads, but it's not now, especially when so many PS3 games nowadays require you to install 2-5GBs of data before you play.

So, while we like playing music through our PS3, which is hooked up to the surround sound speakers, we don't want to clog our games machine up with 15GB worth of tunes. Our old iPods work fine, but newer models we got for Christmas, such as the iPod Touch, don't. So, please Sony, add support for the latest iPods and other Mp3s, won't you?

An official video converter

It is understandable that the PS3 cannot play every video file format on the planet - that would require endless amounts of licensing for all the different codec files. And you can't use the official PSP media converter, either.

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