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Sony piques PS3 fans with PlayTV patch fee

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Sony is to charge PlayStation 3 users for a PlayTV firmware update that brings to the tuner and console the ability to view a seven-day programme guide and record entire series of shows at the push of a button - features DVR owners already take for granted.

The Japanese giant announced the major PlayTV update back in April, and last month added details: the addition of Series Link, support for the TVTV online programme guide, chat-while-you-view over PSN and make recommendations the same way.

Then came the bombshell: "You will be able to get the software update on PS Store at a reasonable price," Sony blogger James Thorpe let slip.

Sony's reasoning: that the update respresents the company's "strong community commitment", that "a lot of effort" went into the firmware's development and that the "premium" update will "make PlayTV a very unique product".

Ignore for the moment the fact that something can't be very unique - it either is, or it isn't one of a kind - the key EPG and series-recording features are, as we say, widely available on other DVRs, and there are already TVs and set-top boxes that let you Tweet or post to Facebook while you're watching.

Sony's right to charge whatever it likes for the products it makes aside, the news that the PlayTV update won't be free has raised plenty of ire-filled comments on the message boards.

As yet Sony is keeping its cards close to its corporate chest as to what it plans to charge for the update - or quite when the update will debut. It's worth noting that the TVTV EPG, which usually is sold on subscription, will be free. But with a perfectly decent over-the-air EPG, we wonder why Sony is bothering with TVTV in the UK.

Sony's action isn't unprecedented - other companies have done the same before. Apple notoriously charged iPod Touch owners for updated system software it was giving away free to iPhone owners, and to bring 802.11n Wi-Fi to early MacBook Pros. ®

Thanks to reader Mike Payne for the tip

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