The PS5 has a polarizing design to say the least. At a glance, it produces the same reaction as when you put a spoon of Marmite in your mouth for the very first time – you either wrench in disgust or are pleasantly surprised. There's no in between (and for the record, I hate Marmite).
If you were to be kind, though, you could say the PS5 is reminiscent of something the PC manufacturer Alienware would produce. But I personally agree with the less flattering comparisons that are floating around the internet: Sony’s console does look like a Wi-Fi router or a cheap knock-off.
From its strange popped collar to its inhaled middle and two-tone color scheme, the PS5 is at odds with almost every piece of technology I've ever owned. There’s no getting away from the fact this is a gaming console, either, and Sony seemingly wants everyone to know it. While I have no qualms with that, I’d still prefer something that doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. A console should, ideally, complement my existing home entertainment devices, particularly if it’s going to be around for five plus years.
If you want to go hard on the gaming aesthetic like Nintendo did with the GameCube, then that's fine. I bloody love that purple cube. But this feels like Sony is trying to prove its console is some sort of space-age technology, which doesn't really hold up when we already know that the Xbox Series X trumps it when it comes to technical specs.
Unlucky lads; got the ps5 already 🤷🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/neEVEgks7SJune 11, 2020
Large and in charge
With two versions of the PS5 available, it’s clear that compromises were made to the original vision of the console’s design. The PS5 Digital Edition, which removes the 4K Blu-Ray drive, looks like the console Sony really wants people to buy (and the one it would prefer to use in all its marketing material).
The standard model, though, is blighted by an unsightly spare tire in the form of the disk drive. It destroys any symmetry Sony was clearly aiming for and it’s plain weird to look at – it appears as though it's been bolted on at the last second.
Sony definitely wants people to stand the console up vertically as well. Yes, it can be placed horizontally, but it looks rather awkward – the console seems to be almost balancing on the accompanying plastic stand.
With evidence pointing towards the PS5 being absolutely gargantuan in size, you’ll need to make ample room for Sony’s towering piece of plastic, too, no matter which orientation you choose. If the comparisons people have made based on the console's disk drive are anything to go by, this will be the biggest console Sony has ever made – and it's comically large.
No no wait wait I got a better oneWONDER AT THE COLOSSUS!!! pic.twitter.com/4JJ9jtJgTDJune 12, 2020
Despite Sony’s best efforts to inspire a different reaction, the console’s appearance is ultimately cheapened by its plastic design. The DualSense PS5 controller looks far more appealing to me, and manages to retain a premium look. But the console misses the mark completely. I can’t envision it taking pride of place in my living room, and I can almost feel it creaking in my hands as I summon the strength to move it.
Are there any positives about the PS5’s design, though? Well, yes. There’s one big win for Sony: everyone is talking about the new console – whether it’s good or bad. When placed next to the Xbox Series X – which is seriously understated in comparison but no less ambitious in its design philosophy – it’s even more of a conversation starter. The PS5 design can’t help but make you say, “have you seen the PS5” to your friends and family, just to see their reactions.
I must admit that I do like the blue light that envelops the console, though. However, I’m sceptical that it will remain on during gameplay. I’ve been burnt before by consoles that promised an alluring glow – the Wii was famously advertised with a futuristic blue light on the console’s disc drive, but it would only appear when you had a notification (and that quickly became annoying). The PS4 is also guilty of the old bait and switch, as its LED switches to a white light when in use, not blue. And when fans thought the top of the Xbox Series X was a green LED, it actually turned out to be just a piece of plastic.
Frankly, though, the PlayStation has generated so much goodwill over the years that I can see the majority of fans looking past the console’s garish design simply because the PS5 has the games they want to play. And that’s what it ultimately comes down to, of course. No console generation has ever been won by having the most attractive plastic box (although there’s no denying the Wii was gorgeous and sold by the bucket load). It’s what lies inside that counts, but let’s gloss over the fact that the Xbox Series X has Sony beat this time around when it comes to specs, shall we?
- How do the two next-gen consoles compare? PS5 vs Xbox Series X
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Adam was formerly TRG's Hardware Editor. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. He is now an editor at The Shortcut.