When it comes to online console gaming, Microsoft has clearly led the way in recent years - let's face it, Xbox Live is a far superior service to Sony's, er, what's it called again?
But Sony is determined to change all that with its next-generation console, according to the latest issue of US magazine PSM. Scans of an article posted on the PlayStation.com forum (sorry, no link - it's the law, you know) reveal that Sony is hoping to "go way beyond mimicking Xbox Live" with an all-singing, all-dancing online service. And that's not all - some very interesting details regarding the PS3's multimedia capabilities have been revealed, too.
Apparently the new online service, titled PlayStation Network, won't just offer matchmaking and ranking lists. You can expect an iTunes-type store that lets you download films and music, and you'll be able to use the console as a Location Free Player. Which means you'll be able to upload stuff from your PS3 onto your PSP, and watch Blu-Ray and DVD movies on your handheld.
Rather excitingly, the PS3 will act as a digital video recorder, so you can digitally store all your favourite telly programmes just like with Sky+ and TiVo. Plus, you'll have the option to control the DVR function using your PSP.
As previously announced, the PS3 will play Blu-Ray discs, but apparently that shouldn't push up the price too much. It seems the Cell and RSX can take care of things for the most part, so you won't be paying what you would for a standalone Blu-Ray player on top of your basic console price. Whatever that may be, of course...
Other snippets include news that the final PS3 dev kit is running faster than was initially predicted, and that there are loads of games currently in development for the console which have yet to be announced - "many more than people realise." Plus we're told that the PS3 will get regular firmware functionality updates, just like the PSP.
The question still remains as to when we can expect Sony's new baby to arrive. According to PSM, US developers are being told to prepare for a "fall" release - which, if past history is anything to go by, translates into European as "Some time before summer next year, if you're lucky."
So just how much of the PSM article is accurate? Who knows - looks like we'll just have to wait and see what they come up with at E3...