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UK PlayStation2 may get DVD performance boost

Decision not to rely on software drivers could mean enhanced DVD playback, as Sony confirms that more PS2s are on the way

PlayStation2 (PS2) consoles sold in the UK and the US will include DVD hardware decoding, rather than the software decoding used in the Japanese version of the console. Sony is reported to have bought up the entire worldwide stock of a certain DVD chipset.

According to the DVD Times, Sony has gobbled up all available LSI Logic chips that were previously used in budget DVD players.

Sony has confirmed to ZDNet that US and UK PlayStation2s will use hardware DVD decoding, and that this will mean improved usability. "Hardware decoding will make it easier for customers to play DVDs on the PlayStation2," a spokesman explained. "Rather than fiddling around with utility drivers, users will simply have to pop the DVD into the drive.

The Japanese PS2 was released with DVD software drivers rather than a hardware decoder, leading to complaints that the quality of DVD playback was inferior compared to dedicated DVD players. Sony would not confirm that the US and UK PS2s would have a performance benefit, as models were not yet available.

Anyone lucky enough to reserve a PlayStation2 last week will be able to purchase their £299 model on November 24. A second shipment of PS2s is expected early next year. According to Sony's spokesman, a decision has not yet been made as to whether these models will be released straight into the shops or via a pre-order scheme.

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