Friday, April 24, 2009

PS3 Firmware Woes

I'm sure many of you who use your PS3 to play online find the firmware updates quite annoying. It's not the idea of updating firmware itself which causes irritation. In fact, I think it's a great idea to remove bugs and add new features into the firmware and should be done for all devices (especially the squashing bugs part).

No, my problem is with the way Sony goes about in doing the whole firmware update. It seems very, primitive, for lack of a better word. So, grab a cup of tea and some snacks and prepare for a list of things that Sony should improve to make firmware updates a little less of a pain in the butt.

1. Frequency & Features

I think this is one of the major ones. Most would agree that the firmware updates come out much too fast and introduce far too few features to warrant an update. How many has there been since launch? 20? Feel free to let me know in the comments. The point is, there's been too many and some have had barely any new things added. If I remember correctly, one firmware update only had "some performance issues resolved in some games" or something like that. Hmm, no comment.

The firmware updates need to come out less frequently and actually contain a lot of new features. Where is in-game Voice chat via the XMB with a friend and better video media compatibility? All these improvements and the best thing we have is text messaging and chat after all these years?

2. Size and Speed

The size is fairly big. Each firmware update is around 128mb. This isn't a problem for people with decent connection speeds (me included), but it is a problem when the firmware does not download at your line speed. I'm always amazed how long it takes to download the firmware. Millions of PS3's downloading the same file at the same time. I'm guessing by the time it takes to download, I'm only getting 25-50kb per second when I should be getting 250kb+. For those with slower speeds, I feel your pain.

Now, I don't get this. Why do I and everyone else need to download the whole firmware package every time, no matter if it's a PS3 with the oldest firmware or if it's a PS3 that has been kept up to date. Why doesn't the server check what firmware you have and only download a file package with the changes (modified files or new files) included. I'm sure with some of these small firmware updates (read number 1), the download would be less than 1mb and a super quick update. It can and should be done!

3. Unfinished Product

Just because firmware updates are possible, doesn't mean that you can release buggy or unfinished software! I think everyone would agree that the PS3's XMB was not finished at launch and was full of essential missing features (and still missing voice chat dammit!). It used to freeze pretty often in the early stages too. Anyone who's tried Xbox live from launch will know how much more complete it was and ready with a good set of features.

The PS3 also still doesn't recognise files on my USB stick, which my 360 has no problem finding. I once tried downloading the PS3 update on my PC using a download manager to get line speed. It worked, but I had to use a lot of connections because it was going so slow. However, when I placed it on my USB stick, the PS3 would not find the firmware. To cut a long story short, I formatted the USB stick and then copied the file to it and finally, that seemed to work. But since I use this USB stick for backup of PC stuff, I've given up on the whole idea. The only positive in all this, is that you can set the PS3 to turn itself off after it's finished downloading and installing the update...only problem is, it doesn't turn itself off completely, but leaves it in standby. I'll have you know that standby uses up quite a bit of electricity over time and needlessly adds to your electricity bill. But that's a tale for another time.

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