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Next PS3 firmware one more reason to buy console as Blu-Ray player

Software update will enable users to download additional multimedia content while playing movies on the PS3's Blu-Ray player.

Update: This story now reflects NPD data showing improved PlayStation 3 performance in the first two months of the year.

For many people, Sony's oft-maligned PlayStation 3 video game console had one no-doubt-about-it selling point: when it launched, it was by far the cheapest Blu-ray player on the market.

That's no longer true, what with plenty of low-cost players flooding the market now that Blu-ray has effectively vanquished HD DVD as the next-generation playback standard.

The PS3 will once again offer users the most advanced Blu-Ray features, despite the console's tepid appeal to video gamers. Sony Computer Entertainment of America

But with its announcement of a forthcoming PS3 firmware upgrade, Sony has once again given consumers a reason to buy the console for little more than its Blu-ray capabilities.

As Sony said, the new firmware will allow users to take advantage of something called BD-Live, and to dynamically download "additional content and special features" associated with movies on Blu-ray.

That means, Sony argued, that BD-Live "will keep your (Blu-ray) discs fresh with new content and in some cases exclusive content only accessible to owners of BD-Live enabled discs."

As an example, the company pointed to the planned April 8 Blu-ray release of two Sony films, The 6th Day and Walk Hard, both of which will have features accessible under BD-Live.

"With this update, the PlayStation 3 becomes the first Blu-ray player on the market with BD-Live functionality," Sony bragged.

Therefore, once again, consumers who want to be on the cutting edge of Blu-ray technology have one distinct place to go for it: the PS3.

Never mind that not once in the blog entry about the firmware upgrade on the official PlayStation blog does Sony use the words "video game." Never mind that in the mind of some in the video game community, the PS3 is the bastard child that has been outclassed most of the way since its launch--at least in sales--by Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's Xbox 360. New data from the NPD Group does show that the PS3 outsold the Xbox in the first two months of 2008, though Microsoft attributes that to shortages of its console in that time frame.

If you're Sony, do you care? Not if you can get people to buy the machine--which, unlike the Wii and the Xbox is available everywhere with no delays at all and has been throughout the past many months--to take advantage of the newest Blu-ray features.

After all, they say, when faced with lemons, make lemonade.