updated 3/20/2008 2:01:07 PM ET 2008-03-20T18:01:07

The next update of Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 console, slated late this month, will include features that let users download games, video and ring tones.

Sony said Thursday the system update will add Blu-ray Disc Profile 2.0, or BD-Live capability, to the PS3. It will also let users copy photos and music playlists on to their handheld PlayStation Portable, use the PSP as a remote control for playing music on the PS3 and stream linked video files from the Web.

This will make the PS3 the first Blu-ray player with access to Internet content and downloads. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which owns the Panasonic brand, also plans to ship a BD-Live player this spring.

With the updates, Sony wants to build the gaming console's status as an entertainment hub.

The downloadable content will range from bonus movie scenes and trailers to "interactive movie-based games."

"With Blu-ray established as the high-definition optical disc standard, more consumers are ready to jump in and take advantage of everything the format offers," said Scott A. Steinberg, vice president of product marketing, in a statement.

The free update also adds a "resume play" feature that enables users to restart Blu-ray discs and DVDs at the point where they stopped even if they take the disk out of the drive. According to Sony's PlayStation blog, the update is slated for the "next few days."

Sony is planning to release a stand-alone Blu-ray player this summer that will feature an Ethernet port to download bonus materials. It won't be BD-Live capable — meaning users won't be able to access Web content — until a subsequent software update.

In this respect, Blu-ray players are playing catch up to the recently defunct HD DVD systems, which always had Internet capabilities.

The BDP-S350 player will cost about $400; a second player, shipping later this year, will cost about $500 and be able to download Web content.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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