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Sony Computer Entertainment America announced that a new firmware for Sony PlayStation 3 game console will enable new Blu-ray playback capabilities. In particular, the PS3 will support Blu-ray profile 2.0, a highly-anticipated feature-set that finally brings abilities of the Blu-ray format inline with HD DVD.

"Most notably, the update enables the PS3 to support Blu-ray disc profile 2.0, also known as BD Live. You can connect now to the Internet while playing discs that support BD-Live to obtain additional content and special features. These features vary from disc to disc, and will keep your BD discs fresh with new content and in some cases exclusive content only accessible to owners of BD Live enabled discs," a statement by Sony Computer Entertainment reads.

The Blu-ray disc (BD) format features three profiles: 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0. The BD profile 1 only allows player owners to watch movies in high-definition (1920x1080, 1080p) resolution; the BD profile 1.1 supports picture-in-picture function, which allows to watch a 1080p movie while simultaneously listening to director’s comments or see how the particular scene was filmed; the BD profile 2.0 (also known as BD Live) is projected to offer Internet connectivity to allow downloading of additional content as well as Java-based games in addition to some other Java-based features that content providers may enable.

Sony will enable Blu-ray profile 2.0/BD Live on Sony PlayStation 3 with Firmware v2.20 updatem, making it the world's first BD 2.0 player. Later this Spring Sony will also release profile 2.0 standalone Blu-ray disc players at about $400 price-point. On April 8th Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release The 6th Day and Walk Hard titles on Blu-ray, which will be among the first to take advantage of BD Live.

Other features the new firmware update brings also improve music and movie playback experience. For example, Sony PlayStation 3 will obtain ability to playback DivX and WMV format files that are larger than 2GB, a capability that was artificially deactivated several months ago.

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