Sony has announced the details on the next PS3 firmware update--version 2.30, coming mid-April--and the big news for home theater fans is that the PS3 is getting onboard DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding for Blu-ray movies. Home theater fans have long lamented that the PS3 could not decode the new DTS soundtracks at their highest resolution, especially since movie studios like Fox have opted for DTS-HD Master Audio on many Blu-ray releases. Without getting too technical, DTS-HD Master Audio offers 7-channels of lossless audio at 96K sampling frequency and 24-bit depths--which means that the sound sent to your receiver should be identical to the studio master.
While some sticklers will point out that the PS3 can't output Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio in bitstream format, it's definitely a non-issue. Decoding the audio at the source is actually better than having the ability to bitstream high-resolution soundtracks, since it means even people with older HDMI-capable receivers can enjoy the high quality audio. Sure, your receiver won't light up the pretty DTS-HD Master Audio logo, but who cares--you still get the same great sound.
We have ranked the PS3 as the best Blu-ray player for quite some time, and this only sweetens the deal. Almost all of our major complaints have been addressed, except for the fact that it still doesn't work nicely with a universal remote. Some diehard home theater fans will cringe at the idea of using a game console as their main disc player, but they should get over their hang-up as the PS3 is currently the best Blu-ray has to offer and it also happens to be the cheapest. And you can play high-def games and stream music, movies and photos.
The new firmware will also include a much-needed overhaul to the PlayStation Store. The official PlayStation Blog posted a walkthrough of the new store, and we have to admit it looks pretty good. Check it below.