Sony revealed the hardware design for the PlayStation 4 at E3, but the console remained under glass until last night's PlayStation Holiday Preview event. While there might be some minor changes or tweaks before the official launch, getting to see and touch Sony's new console gives a much better sense of the final product.
The console is smaller than Microsoft's Xbox One, with a design consisting of two thin rhombus-shaped slats pressed together. The unit was displayed standing on end, towering over the surrounding peripherals like the monolith in "2001: A Space Odyssey." When laid horizontally, the new flat design will also be much more conducive to stacking, unlike rounded top construction of the last generation model.
A single new controller was displayed beside the PS4, which looks like a slightly rounder version of the Playstation 3's controller and includes a touch area above the two analog thumb sticks. The buttons had plenty of spring, just like the older controller, and the new thumb dimples were quite comfortable. I was able to use the touch area to swipe through available cars in Driveclub, but it felt more natural to continue using the analog stick for this use case.
A stylized and futuristic VCR
There was also a headset, with a single in-ear bud and a microphone, that plugs directly into the bottom of the controller, much like the Roku 3 remote. The PS4 Eye was also on display, looking like an oversized pack of Starburst complete with notches to denote individual square-shaped pieces.
The PS4 is almost like a stylized and futuristic VCR, but in the best way possible. The overall design looks sleek and modern, moving away from the soft roundness of hardware past and opting for sharp angles and the subtle contrast between shiny and matte black plastic. The new model is more understated than the PS3, but definitely looks like a next generation console.