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PS3 now jailbreakable via USB dongle?

New device purports to allow gamers to play their games without the optical Blu-ray discs, instead just playing them off a hard drive.

Pirating made easy?

A new hack is purportedly hitting the scene in a week or so that could let PS3 owners dump borrowed games onto the system's hard drive--or even an external drive--and play them. No optical discs, just straight gaming from an HD. Needless to say, this is a hack many users have been waiting for and one Sony has been trying to prevent.

The hack, which some are calling a jailbreak, similar to software that allows non-Apple-approved apps to run on the iPhone and iPad, comes in the form of a USB dongle called PS Jailbreak. When inserted into a PS3's USB port and booted, the console runs the software on the stick. The software installs the jailbreak that turns off many of Sony's security measures, but it keeps your valid warranty seal intact and won't brick your console, the makers say.

Besides the ability to copy and play games from the HD, the jailbreak is said to allow non-Sony-approved software, including homebrew apps, to run. Even online gaming is supported, and early reports state that games running from the HD run faster than the same games from the optical disc drive.

Sony, of course, won't like this news (we've contacted the company and will update this post as soon we hear back) and is likely already working on a patch to its next firmware upgrade that disables the dongle. The good news for jailbreakers is the software the jailbreak runs stops Sony from pushing a system update. This means that as long as users don't manually upgrade their PS3's OS, the jailbreak will work.

The dongle is available for preorder right now for $150, according to Ars Technica, with a ship date on or about August 27. While the video below from allegedly shows the software running--and it looks like it is, to be sure--we won't be convinced this is a real PS3 jailbreak until we've tried the unit out ourselves.