Can my PS5 still access the Playstation store with old Firmware
I got a PS5 several months ago direct from Sony. Truth is I've only used it a couple times, and I don't play games with friends and don't like to update my operating systems unless there is a real compelling reason for me to do so. I just decided to check out its media player and found that I can't because I'm not on the latest firmware. I'm certain that on my PS4, I could still access the store, media features, etc. even on an older firmware I just couldn't play games online.
Does PS5 really not let you do ANYTHING other than play local games, without being on the latest firmware?
Both the PS4 and PS5 disable PlayStation Store and PlayStation Network access when a firmware update is made available that is mandatory. This is usually the case when a major update is release.
With minor updates (e.g v9.0.1 to v9.0.2), these are usually optional, unless a specific game requires it. There are some exceptions, like if the update is security related, e.g. to prevent jailbreaking.
If updating the firmware is an issue, leaving the console on stand by ("Rest mode") will auto update the console as and when new firmware updates are released. I've had the PS5 for over an year and the updates haven't really bothered me as the console is better at updating itself than the PS4.