Widely regarded as the product most likely to dent Apple's iPod marketshare, Sony next week will make it possible to watch TV and browse the Web using the PlayStation Portable (PSP).

The company will release a system software update for the PSP next week that will add the ability to browse the Internet and download TV programs, the company said Thursday.

Accessible from the PSP's main menu, the Web browser supports HTML 4.01 and will allow access to most Web sites.

Video and TV at will

Also new will be support for downloading video in the MPEG-4 AVC format. This was demonstrated at an event in Tokyo Thursday by connecting a PSP with the new software to a PSP portal site that will be launched next week by SoNet, a Sony-affiliated Internet service provider in Japan. The portal will offer downloads of TV programs and other content. Prices for the service were not disclosed.

AAC support

Other new features include the ability to transfer photos from one PSP to another via an ad-hoc wireless LAN, and support for additional media formats including AAC. Apple uses AAC within it's iTunes Music Store, though this iteration includes digital rights management software called FairPlay, so iTunes purchases will not presently work on a PSP.

The version 2.0 software update will be available via the PSP's built-in update function or in UMD (Universal Media Disc) form from July 27, the company said. Information on whether the update will be simultaneously available to users outside Japan was not immediately available.

Sony also announced plans to launch a white PSP, called the PSP-1000KCW. At present the console is available only in black. The white version will be available in Japan from September 15.

The company has sold 5.1 million units so far, with US sales particularly strong - 2.7 million.