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Expected since E3 if slightly hazy in terms of specifics, Sony's PlayStation Plus subscriber service is now available for gamers willing to part with $50 a year. All you need is the latest 3.40 firmware update, a credit card number, and a bit of disposable income.
I just pulled it down--a trifle slow coming, through whether size or traffic-related I couldn't say--and ran through the subscriber options to see whether it's worth $50.
3.40's Free Side
Not everything in 3.40 takes credit cards. For instance: You can now edit video content saved to the PS3 and upload that video to YouTube or Facebook. Using the feature's as simple as tapping on the Video Editor & Uploader icon--two stacked dots topped by a triangle. I had to download an additional 44MB update to get started, after which a simple "add," "edit," and "finish" interface let me import and tinker with various video slices. A note warns that video copied to the system prior to the 3.40 update won't work (it'll have to be recopied) nor will "copyright-protected" content, for obvious reasons.
You can also share new photos or comment on existing ones at sites like Facebook or Picasa in Photo Gallery, and while I didn't try it, the update claims you can now print photos as well. Again, I had to install an additional (110MB!) update, though it wasn't clear if that actually predated the 3.40 firmware change, since I haven't fiddled with Photo Gallery in ages.
System Auto-Off now defaults to 2 hours and offers several alternative settings (1, 3, or 5), though why you can't just plug in a number manually seems odd. Why not 4, 6, or for that matter, 10.5?
Perhaps the best new gratis feature is five-star rating support--long overdue, and available on the Xbox 360's LIVE service since 2008--which lets you rate PlayStation Store content. Scan around the Store and you'll notice games are already racking up ratings by the hundreds.
Next: PlayStation Plus Troubles...