Sony PS3 owners to get free 3D update

Gamers prepare for stereoscopic vision

Sony is readying itself to roll out an update to current PlayStation 3 games console owners to allow them to take advantage of the new Full HD 3D TVs and 3D programming that are about to launch.

"PS3 users worldwide will only need to upgrade the PS3 system software via the internet and there is no need to repurchase the system to enjoy 3D games," said Nainan Shah, vice-president of new platform, planning and development at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, the branch of Sony under which the PlayStation falls.

Next month, Sky will launch its 3D schedule while BSkyB and others have also announced plans to provide 3D programming in the coming months.

Sony says that the PS3 console requires only an over-the-air update in order to enable 3D, since the necessary HDMI port is already present and the console uses the Cell processor. No additional outlay is required by the console owner.

The same processor is found in Toshiba's cutting-edge Cell TV. The Cell processor is important, says Sony, because of its ability to use software to decode images. Updated software will therefore be capable of decoding new formats.

In December, Sony Computer Entertainment announced that it will release stereoscopic 3D games titles for PS3 in conjunction with Sony's 3D TV launch timing this year. It will also actively support software developers and publishers, providing technological information to develop stereoscopic 3D games and content, Sony announced at a briefing in Tokyo.

"Sony's plans to upgrade existing PS3 consoles to 3D will provide a major boost to the 3D market during 2010," commented David Mercer of Strategy Analytics when Sony unveiled its 3D PS3 ambitions. "This could quickly create a worldwide installed base of more than 30 million 3D-capable games consoles and confirm the PS3 as a platform positioned for the next generation of console games."

The big driver for 3D will be this year's Fifa World Cup in South Africa, which kicks off on 12 June. Most TV manufacturers will have 3D TVs onsale well before this. Several are also looking to offer ways to allow existing customers to enjoy 3D TV programming and are whetting their appetites by offering 2D-to-3D upgrade packs.

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