clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Status Symbols: Sony PlayStation 2

New, 99 comments

The PlayStation 2 represents a pinnacle of hardware design, Sony or otherwise.

playstation 2
playstation 2

Status Symbols are devices that transcend their specs and features, and become something beautiful and luxurious in their own right. They're things that live on after the megapixel and megahertz wars move past them, beacons of timeless design and innovation.

There's no scarcity, artificial or otherwise, to the PlayStation 2. Over 150 million PS2s are floating around in the world, collecting dust or spinning up for one more game of SingStar. There isn't really a definitive PS2, either. The original and the slim version (pictured) are almost equally iconic, and the "same" $299 console that helped popularize the DVD a decade ago still sells in the millions at $99 a pop. While the original PlayStation got Sony's foot in the door, and the PlayStation 3 continues the legacy, the PlayStation 2 is the essential of the trio. Sony's decision to drop PS2 compatibility early into the PS3's lifecycle helped cement that, and the PS2's incredible library of games has made it worth keeping around.

Given that widespread popularity, it's easy to forget the PlayStation 2 represents a pinnacle of hardware design, Sony or otherwise. The original version looked exactly like the supercomputer it was, but the slim version compressed that design language into something perfectly elegant and understated. The look comes from Mission Impossible, or Alien, or 2001: Space Odyssey, not M:i-2, or Aliens, or 2010: The Year We Make Contact. It's Sneakers, not Hackers. There's something stuck-in-time about the machine, more like a piece of architecture than a gadget, perhaps helped along by the fact that it's a mere conduit to gameplay — an appliance that's stuck around into the age of the console-as-computer. The PlayStation 2 isn't merely a blockbuster: it's still science fiction.