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In a bid to further ignite demand towards its PlayStation 3 game console, which has been the worst seller among new-generation game consoles in the U.S., Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. will enable playback of DivX movies on the device. The plan will allow owners of the PlayStation 3 to get a new multimedia capability.

“We are excited to work with Sony Computer Entertainment to bring DivX to PS3. Our technology will expand the multimedia functionality of PS3 by enabling users to enjoy access to the broad library of content in the DivX digital media format,” said Kevin Hell, chief executive of DivX Inc.

The DivX and its brother XviD formats are used to distribute copyright protection-free movies typically by the Internet and usually without content producer approval. Both codecs are based on MPEG 4 ASP and offer balance between video quality and file size. To date, over 100 million DivX Certified products have been shipped into the market, and it is anticipated that PS3 will expand that number by more than five million of units already sold by Sony.

Adding the DivX support to Sony PlayStation 3 will allow its owners to playback movies ripped from DVDs and available through the Internet, substantially improving usage model of the device that can already playback Blu-ray discs and DVDs, something, that no other game console available today can do. On the other hand, since game consoles are usually bought to play video games, DivX playback support may not become popular among end-users.

Sony PlayStation 3 console is based on the Cell processor developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the RSX graphics chip by Nvidia Corp., wireless network and Bluetooth connectivity and is equipped with Blu-ray optical disk drive. There are several versions of the consoles available around the world with 60GB or 80GB hard disk drives and variable compatibility with PlayStation 1/2 games as well as 40GB version that cannot play old games at all. The official prices of Sony PlayStation 3 40GB and 80GB in the USA are $399 and $499, respectively.

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