Sony have released another new firmware upgrade for the PlayStation Portable today, bringing with it support for Microsoft's WMA format and a new RSS Channel tool opening up the world of Podcasts to the PSP.

The addition of Windows Media Audio to the existing audio formats is a huge boost to owners who wanted to have more flexibility with the music files that could be played on the PSP, which was previously limited to MP3 and AAC, and ignored Microsoft's widespread WMA format, requiring files to be converted first - much like Apple's iPod.

Perhaps more important though is the new RSS Channel which has been added to the Network menu, and gives the PSP full blogcast (or podcasting as it's become known) support. When you first run the RSS Channel you'll be directed to an FAQ on Sony's site giving detailed information about how the service works and how to subscribe to the RSS channels, along with specifications of RSS feeds for webmasters wanting to check that their feeds are correct.

Adding an RSS feed is as simple as clicking on the RSS button on webpages, although unfortunately at this stage only audio is supported, so you'll not be able to subscribe to standard text feeds to get weblog posts or videos via the RSS program.

To try it out we added a couple of podcasts which we knew were available, including Xbox Live's Major Nelson and a couple of BBC Podcast feeds, and then wandered around within range of our 802.11b/g wireless network, simply selecting any show from the list which showed up in the RSS Channel tool, and had them stream straight to the PSP, playing as they download - there's full control over the playback including the ability to pause, fast forward, rewind, loop and skip tracks.

Unlike a traditional MP3 player such as an iPod you don't have to download the tracks to your PC and then sync them to your iPod, because your PSP is connected wirelessly you can simply get them "live" straight off the net as you require. It'd seem there's no way of saving podcasts to the memorystick though for listening to when you're away from a wireless broadband connection, which might be the only downside.

The free firmware upgrade is available to all PSP owners in the UK and details about getting it can be found on the website, or if you're connected to a wireless network with your PSP just go to the System Settings menu and select Network Update to download it automatically.