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Home » Featured, Reviews

Firmware v2.70 impressions

Submitted by on Wednesday, 8 April 20095 Comments

270-firmwareFirmware updates have become an integral part of the PlayStation 3 experience, with new ones coming in every three months on average.

Ever since the PS3‘s launch we have seen the addition of in-game XMB, Trophies, a brand new PlayStation Store, improvements to the Internet Browser and much more.

On Thursday morning last week (UK time) the latest update hit the PlayStation Network servers for the PS3, raising the software version to v2.70. So what do we think of the update and the new additions it gives to the system?

This update gives PlayStation 3 users a mix bag of enhancements and features, including Text Chat, Copy and Paste and the ability to copy videos downloaded from the store to an external storage device for those who are running out of space on their hard drives. The latter is a US-only feature at present, since the video store hasn’t been launched elsewhere.

Let’s start with the highlight of the firmware – Text Chat. Unlike the standard message system, Text Chat is like the PSN’s version of Windows Live Messenger. You can chat to your friends and keep track of the conversation all on one screen.

What we love about this in particular is you can go into a game and providing the text chat window was the last thing you opened in the XMB, switch between Killzone 2 and chatting to your mates with ease, simply by pressing the PS Button.

Unfortunately this enhancement to the PlayStation Network is far from perfect. Sony seems to have taken inspiration from Twitter by taking its tiny character limit and cutting it in half, making meaningful conversations a little difficult.


The new Text Chat in action

In fact, we think poor character limits in particular is a recurring problem throughout the free online service. Both Online ID comments and the standard messaging system have character limits that are too small, which is frustrating and maybe is something that Sony should really improve soon in the future.

With the amount of games and videos you can find on the store, we fail to see how increasing the character limits, even by just a small amount, would put any real extra strain on the servers.

In fact it is this very firmware update that has increased the size limit for files you send to friends via PSN messages, which further confuses us when thinking of the character limit.

We also have another suggestion for the Text Chat feature; most instant messaging systems tell you when someone in the conversation is typing a message, so perhaps Sony could introduce this too? Even with these failings, Text Chat is still a great new addition to the PS3.

A further enhancement that Sony has introduced to the Friends List is a new sort option. You can now sort your friends by their name, no matter what their status is. In our view sorting by status is still the best option, but this has also been modified; offline friends are now sorted by their last sign in, with the most recent on the top.

We like the change as it makes it easy to sort past those friends who never come online, and also like the fact that ‘pending response’ friends have been moved to the top – useful when meeting and adding new people online.

The Internet Browser in v2.70 has gained some minor tweaks as well. You can now copy text and URLs, in a similar way to how Apple are adding copy and paste to the iPhone. Once you have copied something, you can then easily paste it into a message. This is particularly handy when you want to show someone something you have found on the World Wide Web.

You can paste text in a text box or message

You can paste text in a text box or message

Sony has been working on cutting a few steps out for finding information about the titles you own by adding ‘Internet Search’ to the options (triangle) menu when you highlight a game on the XMB. This will take you to a Google search result of the game you have selected which is good. Unfortunately, they haven’t added a direct link to just yet. It looks like we will have to wait for v2.80 for that one.

It’s the norm for Sony to sneak in some minor improvements into each firmware update, and v2.70 is no exception.

The loading time for trophies on online profiles has been improved massively. They still don’t load in a flash, but we are glad that Sony have noted the problem and gone some way to resolve it.

A second secret addition can be seen on the downloading screen when you are bringing content down from the PSN or via a game update, as it now gives you an estimated time until completion. This is a useful addition, but unfortunately Sony appears to have forgotten to give this reading when you visit the download list on the XMB menu.

We have also discovered what we think is a very minor slip-up for the default XMB theme. The Text Chat icon is far bigger than any other icon on the cross media bar. However, if you go to the in-game XMB, it is back to normal size.

Compared to previous updates, we think it is one of the best to land on the PlayStation 3. It’s not as groundbreaking as v2.40 or v2.50, but it does bring a lot of small features that make a big difference.

As always, we enjoy hearing your own impression on v2.70 below in the comments…