PSP, DSi, and Xbox 360 owners can expect their consoles to gain some new abilities over the next month — many for no added cost. We've broken down the big changes coming.
[NOTE: The following reflects the plans for the U.S. market]
In June, during E3, Sony enabled the PSP Video Store, which allows direct downloading of video content to the Sony portable.
The Nintendo DSi is scheduled to gain the ability to upload pictures snapped by either of the DSi's cameras to Facebook. Nintendo slates this for summer. It will assumedly be made available via a download to the DSi.
In August, the Xbox 360's Netflix service, which is available to paying Xbox Live Gold users who also have a Netflix account, will be upgraded to allow users to add movies to their queue via the 360, rather than strictly through their PC.
Also in August, Microsoft will launch a Games on Demand service, which will allow consumers to download full-sized Xbox 360 games to their harddrive. Based on the games shown at E3 in a mock-up of the service, expect these to be older games, like Lego Batman, Oblivion and Mass Effect.
In the fall, Xbox 360s will gain the ability to be receive Facebook and Twitter updates on their 360. The integration won't send status updates at you while you're playing games, but it will let you check up on your friends and link their accounts to their Gamertags for better social networking without the need of a computer.
In the fall, the Xbox 360 will offer Last.FM integration to Xbox Live Gold members.
Also in the fall, the 360 will enable users to try Instant-Streaming in 1080p, an on-demand video service that will allow 1080- video to be streamed without caching, buffering or delay for users with an 8mbps Internet connection or better.
As of October 1, when the PSPgo launches, all PSP users can expect that major new games issued by Sony for PSPgo will also be downloadable for regular PSPs. Sony isn't committing to when this transition will kick in for all PSP first-party games or the extent to which it will also take place for third-party PSP games, but users can expect October 1 to be an important date to watch as this move occurs.
There may be other firmware or app-enabled changes to these systems as well as to the Wii and PS3 by the end of the year. These are the ones announced so far. And the game consoles keep on evolving...