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Sony Breathes "Life" Into PlayStation 3

However, Stanford University’s previous computing project hasn’t gone away, but rather is now integrated into the Life with PlayStation service. Sony’s new feature appears to be an attempt to trump Nintendo’s News Channel on the Wii console, taking the content one step further with a pleasing graphical interface, live images and world-wide news.

Simply put, Life with PlayStation features two sections: the Live Channel and Folding@Home. The Live Channel is a source of global news, offering headlines from Atlanta, Georgia to Kuwait City. But instead of an ugly browser full of clunky links, Life with PlayStation presents the earth in real-time lighting: the 3:40 p.m. sun shines down on San Francisco while lights glitter across the dark country of Russia like strings of lights on a Christmas tree.

Sony claims that the program features nearly sixty cities from around the globe. Major city icons present the current weather (powered by the Weather Channel), and when highlighted, will display an additional list of four headlines and a "more" link that takes the user to the console’s web browser (powered by Google News); the list also shows a real-time photo provided by The Earth Television Network.

As for the controls, users can change the options of the Live Channel by hitting the Triangle button, specifically how the program plays music within the program. Users can select tracks stored on the hard drive, or choose to let Life select the "mood" by playing whatever it recommends. There are also five other instrumental tunes provided such as energetic, calm, dramatic and more.

Users can also alter the temperature settings of each available city (aka Channel) as well, switching between Fahrenheit and Celsius. In order to move from city of city, simply rotate the earth using the left thumbstick, and zoom in and out with the right. If left alone, Life with PlayStation will rotate the Earth on its own, moving from city to city and displaying the localized information. Unfortunately, there is no setting allowing the end-user to add his/her hometown to the rotating globe.

As for accessing the Folding@Home portion, users only need to hit the Square button and choose the Folding@Home icon. The updated Folding@Home now includes a ranking system that allows users to see where they stand computing-wise against other contributors across the world. The new version also supports "more advanced simulation of protein fold" according to Sony. Additionally, the program also continues to calculate the proteins while users are browsing news in the Live Channel.

Sony also reports that more channels will appear in the future. "Life with PlayStation will continually deliver a wide variety of interactive content and channels to living rooms through network connected PS3s to further enhance the world of entertainment made possible by PS3," the company stated in a recent press release.

For now, PlayStation owners can connect with the world through the Live Channel free of charge. However, PlayStation 3 will need access to the PlayStation Network to use this new service. To download and install Life with PlayStation, simply load up the existing Folding@Home program and follow the update instructions.