New versions of Sony's multi-function games console, digital video recorder and DVD burning device, the PSX, are set to arrive in Japan at the start of next month - with a host of software changes to add extra functionality to the device.
Both versions of the PSX - the DESR-5000 and the DESR-7000, sporting 160Gb and 250Gb hard drives respectively - will be upgraded, with new version numbers 5100 and 7100 being slapped on the chassis.
However, the actual hardware will remain exactly the same - the only difference will be that the DESR-5100 will be available in a limited edition silver model as well as the standard white colour, and more splitter cables and antenna cables will be included in the box to work around the system's lack of pass-through sockets for TV signals.
The difference in the new PSX is all under the hood - with a massive overhaul of the system's software promised which will introduce all of the features originally promised for the device (which current PSX owners can already download as firmware updates for their systems) as well as a host of new functionality.
The DVD burning functionality of PSX is where the bulk of the improvements are headed - with the company now allowing users more choice in terms of what quality they record their video to disc at, and giving them the ability to select audio channels when dubbing to a DVD rather than recording both in VR-mode, thus improving compatibility with other DVD players greatly.
The most interesting new feature, though, is the ability to create interactive menus for your DVDs - with fifty different templates available for the creation of attractive menus for your digital video creations. You'll also be able to split recorded footage into chapters, a fairly essential feature for creating useful DVDs.
Outside of DVD recording, the company is also promising a host of new user interface improvements, the ability to browse pages on the PlayStation BB broadband service (although you still won't be able to download content) and a number of vital bug fixes.
Owners of existing PSX models will be able to add all of these new features to their existing consoles with a firmware update, effectively turning them into new model devices in every way bar the number on the back of the box.
As such, this move is more a chance for Sony to relaunch the PSX to the public than anything else. The new devices - which will probably retail for a slightly lower price than the original PSX versions - will be hugely competitive DVD / HD recording devices, and if Sony can restore confidence in retailers and consumers alike with this relaunch, PSX should be able to recover from its slightly disappointing performance this year so far.
PSX is due to be launched in the USA and Europe before the end of the year. It's expected that the new PSX models (5100 and 7100) with their updated firmware will be what eventually ends up on US and European retail shelves.