A free download upgrade for the Sony PlayStation 3 enhances the image quality of movies and old video games and allows people to check out stored video, music files and digital photos through the Internet with the handheld PlayStation Portable.

The upgrade, available for download worldwide Thursday, will improve the visual quality of PlayStation 2 games, as well as original PlayStation games, although it won't be quite as dazzling as the quality of PS3 games, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. officials said.

The software will also work to adjust the image quality of movies so they will look much better on the PS3, which is equipped to deliver higher image quality through next-generation Blu-ray Disc technology.

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Up to now, people could use the PlayStation Portable to watch content stored in their PS3 through a wireless local area network.

With the upgrade, users will be able to use PlayStation Portables to check out music, photos and video stored in their PS3 machines at home, while on the go, even from abroad, wherever there's an Internet connection. But they won't be able to play PS3 games on their portable console.

The PlayStation 3 has been losing the battle of next-generation video game consoles to Nintendo Co.'s Wii, which has surprisingly won over the elderly and other newcomers with a wandlike remote-control that can be used for fishing, tennis and other easy-to-play games.

The PS3 went on sale in November in Japan and the U.S., and in March in Europe.

Tokyo-based Sony Corp. (SNE) shipped 5.5 million PS3 machines in the fiscal year through March 31, fewer than the 6 million the company had targeted. Nintendo shipped 5.84 million Wii machines worldwide during the same period.

Sony isn't expecting to post a profit in its game business until the fiscal year ending March 2009.