Hands on with PS3's firmware 2.5 update

The PlayStation 3 will get a host of new features and improvements later this month with the new firmware 2.5 update.

The PlayStation 3 will get a host of new features and improvements later this month with the new firmware 2.5 update.

The new PlayStation 3 firmware adds the ability to take in-game screenshots, a notable new feature that will need to be enabled by developers. Still, Sony representatives seemed optimistic that the new screenshot functionality would be enabled by some developers via game updates and that many future games would take advantage of the screenshot function. The physical method for taking screenshots -- what button or buttons to press -- is still up in the air, but those details should become more clear later this month when the firmware launches. We do know that captured screenshots will be automatically dumped in the PS3's Photo folder.

Though details are still scarce on the screenshot function, the possibilities are impressive. And because the capturing will be done internally, the resulting images should be pixel-perfect -- more than enough quality to build an online Flickr gallery of your favorite game moments, for example.

Other highlights of the new PS3 firmware 2.5

Controller auto-off: One of the biggest annoyances of the PlayStation 3 will finally be resolved -- players can set an "auto-off" in the new Power Save settings menu. This will make the Sixaxis and DualShock 3 controllers turn off after 10 minutes of non use. The Power Save menu also allows you to set an auto-off time for the PlayStation 3 (handy if you want to charge your controller before heading to bed).

Trophy updates: The Trophy comparison screen has seen several improvements, most notably a new "level" system that tracks player progress. Players will now have a role-playing game-style "level" (Level 1, Level 2, and so on) with an experience-point meter that fills as new Trophies are earned. This will allow two players to compare their progress at a glance.

New video features: Firmware 2.5 adds two subtle new video playback features. Scene Search will re-process your movie or show into 1-minute increments with thumbnails for quick navigation. Sequential Playback will daisy-chain your videos together that will, for example, allow you to watch an entire season of shows uninterrupted.

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