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PlayStation 3 gets firmware upgrade

The 2.40 software update for Sony's latest video game console adds in-game Cross Media Bar access, a trophy system, and a shortcut to Google searches.

Update: Sony has suspended the 2.40 upgrade, following reports that it has fouled up some PS3 systems (see Joystiq for more). While the two PS3s we have here at CNET were able to install the update with no adverse effects, it appears that some users were considerable less fortunate.

The 2.40 firmware update for the PlayStation 3 is now available. The free update, which Sony has been talking up for the past several days, adds a smattering of new features, including in-game access to the XMB (Cross Media Bar) home screen, custom soundtracks, a new trophy system, and a shortcut to Google searches.

The new features carry a host of caveats: the in-game XMB, customized soundtracks, and trophies aren't supported on all games; in-game XMB features are fairly limited; and the trophy system (with the a few exceptions) won't be retroactive to already-accomplished goals.

Trophies, for instance, are better viewed as a feature that will begin becoming more useful as future games begin supporting the feature. That said, both the trophy system and in-game XMB help the PS3 better compete with the achievements and Xbox Live or Xbox Dashboard features offered by the Xbox 360.

PS3 users will also notice a handful of other simple but useful touches with this update, including an on-screen clock, a quick shutdown icon, and a shortcut to Google searches. And speaking of the PS3's browser: while it's not new for 2.40, it's worth noting that the Web browser splash screen now includes shortcuts to YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook.

So what do you think? Does the 2.40 update add some worthwhile features to the PS3, or does the Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii still have an edge? And what other features would you like to see come in future PS3 software upgrades? Firmware 2.40 walk-through, part 1 (embedded above) Firmware 2.40 walk-through, part 2 Firmware 2.40 FAQ