PSP video download service launches in Japan.


Rob Fahey 17:39 27/07/2005
Paid-for multimedia content on the way to the PSP - in the Far East, at least

Sony has launched the first phase of a new service which will provide Japanese consumers with downloadable video content for the PlayStation Portable - starting with free content, but moving on to paid-for TV episodes.

Called Portable TV, the service is being operated through Sony's ISP company, So-net, and takes advantage of the inclusion of the high quality H.264 video playback functionality in the new PSP firmware which was released today.

Initially, around 100 free downloads will be available, including trailers and independent movies, but the company plans to introduce content ranging from TV episodes to movies and music videos in paid-for format shortly.

Each download will clock in at around 256Mb for a 30 minute segment, and pricing details have not yet been announced. Users will be able to brows the Portable TV site directly from their PSPs thanks to today's addition of a web browser function to the hardware.

The move follows the addition of the ATRAC3plus music format to the PSP, also in today's firmware upgrade, which will enable users to purchase music from Sony's Connect Music Store for playback on the PSP.

As yet, however, they cannot browse the music store on their consoles - but that's functionality which seems likely to be added in the near future.

Thats kinda interesting that Sony has jumped into that. I thought it was interesting news because we are all kinda wondering is if a Video iPod will happen.
This has been coming for a long time, and is probably a good thing, really.

As for the ongoing rumors of a video iPod - the first of which was supposedly found on the wall of a cave in central Africa and is dated 12,000 years ago, reading "Ugg want video iPod" - I'm sure that this will one day come to fruition. However, it would mean a radical change in the form factor of the iPod. In order to accomodate a widescreen display in a way that is easy to hold or rest on a desk or whatever, the iPod design as we know it would have to be thrown out the window. Along with it would go the iPod name, as it would have to be changed to a name that is similar enough to keep brand-familiarity, and different enough to make it clear that its a new product.

When will this happen? Well, iTunes video support was introduced a few months ago now. H.264 was only recently "officially" brought to QuickTime on the PC with QT7 finally out of beta. Apple reps are at present in delicate negotiations with at least two major film distributors (Disney and Fox) and the development of a suitable chipset from Intel is, according to all sources, moving along.

A product may be announced in time for Macworld in January next year, if everything goes smoothly, or it may not get off the ground until late 2006. I am pretty confident however that this is going to happen eventually.