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PlayStation Home v1.4 Hands-On, Say Goodbye to Loading Times

November 13, 2010 Written by Mike Hartnett

PlayStation Home core client update v1.4 has finally hit PS3′s everywhere, and we finally managed to get our hands on it. What should you expect in this tremendous update? Let’s take a look!

From the get-go, there’s one thing we noticed, and that’s the loading times. We never thought we’d say this, but loading times are borderline non-existent! When Home first hit open beta and started verifying digital purchases upon start-up, it took nearly 5 minutes or more for the application to start; it was heinous. Then came the update which introduced the navigation bar, which cut load times down by a minute or two while giving us something to do in the meantime. Well, update v1.4  essentially annihilated these ridiculous load times, and took an initial start-up which used to take around 5 minutes, and cut it down to less than a minute! We timed how long it took for to go from Home start-up logo to the end of the verification process, and it only took 53.26 seconds! Even better, the total time it took to go from start-up to in-world came out to an even 1 minute!

This trend continues throughout Home, with any and all loading times exceeding no more than a few seconds. This goes for the wardrobe section as well, which used to be an absolute nightmare to use, especially for those with dozens and dozens of virtual items. Now, items load ultra fast and browsing is a breeze. There’s even an option to store clothing items if you don’t plan to use them, which will cause Home to completely overlook them when loading your closet. It’s a shame they decided to implement this now, because the wardrobe is so quick now, we haven’t even had to use the storage function.

Next we have Home status updates. This feature allows users to display a particular status next to their name which will let others know that they’re happy, sad, want to play a game, chat, etc. Your avatar’s facial expressions even change to represent the status, which is pretty cool, and finally rids users of the perpetually creepy smile that had plagued Home avatars for quite some time.

Then we have the meat and potatoes of this update, and that’s the new chat options. While public voice chat hasn’t made a full-return, the new options bring us very close. Text and voice chat are now divided into channels. Users are able to switch between local  (public) and club text chat, in addition to group chat with up to 8 people. Private messages can also be sent via the PDA from anywhere in Home by selecting a friend from your list. The new voice chat features are just as robust, but omit the local (public) channel option. The ability to engage in voice chat with up to 8 individuals at once in Home, outside of the boundaries of a personal space, is liberating to say the least, and blows the doors off the previous limit of just 2.

There are some minor cosmetic changes here and there, with a slightly redesigned navigator which now incorporates the ability to shop straight from the menu (we should have seen this coming), and an all-new PDA system which really helps to streamline things. All-in-all, this update is fantastic. Sony brought the goods by destroying loading times and introducing new features, the two main components of a great update. It looks like the Home devs get a pass, but we’ll be expecting even more next time around, because we now know what they’re capable of! If you haven’t logged into Home in a while, now would be a great time to do so.

For full details and instructions on how to use the new chat features, be sure to check out this handy guide on the Official PlayStation Forums. And for all the latest PlayStation Home news, be sure to stay tuned to PlayStation LifeStyle!