Sony has begun offering video downloads to Japanese owners of its PlayStation Portable handheld console.
The service - called Portable TV or P-TV, for short - currently offers free content, such as movie trailers, promotional videos, and TV episodes from China and Korea, but will expand to include premium material for a fee.
P-TV is only available to customers of Sony's ISP subsidiary, So-Net.
P-TV's content is encoded in MPEG 4 and H.264 formats, support for which comes to the PSP courtesy of this week's release of version 2.0 of the device's firmware. The addition of MPEG 4 means the PSP can also now play back AAC audio files encoded in Apple's iTunes software, though not DRM-protected tracks from the Mac maker's online music store.
The firmware also brings ATRAC 3 Plus audio support to the PSP, this time with the ability to handle the DRM technology employed by Sony's Connect online music store.
However, the PSP can't yet browse either Sony Connect or P-TV directly - audio and video content must first be downloaded to a PC and then copied across to the console's Memory Stick via a USB cable.
The launch of the Sony PSP video download service comes hot on the heels of speculation that Apple will launch a video-oriented version of its popular iPod later this year. Apple Japan is also believed to be gearing up to launch a local incartation of the iTunes Music Store next week. ®