Sony showed the PlayStation 4 today, or rather blurry pics of a box (see above), and Microsoft is set to blow the cover off their unit tomorrow. We all know what we want in terms of games and features, but what about designs? Seemingly an ancillary part of the console, box design can take away a lot of appeal done wrong. So, here are four missteps we hope are not featured when we see the systems in full.
Front-facing LEDS: Electronics manufactures, knock it off. Super bright LEDs look great, acting like search lights to draw you into hardware to let you know it’s on, sleeping, or it just died from hardware failure. However, they also shine directly into the users eyes. I have three pieces of hardware sitting in front of me that needed small pieces of electrical tape to block the blinding glow: My TV, my subwoofer, and an AV switchbox. The Wii U would be included were the console closer to eye level. As nice as they can be, making them so bright they can light a room is obnoxiously stupid. Keep it to a minimum.
Curvature: Oh sure, those sleek curves make something look fancy and expensive. It also makes sure that nothing else can be stacked on top of it. In an era where cable boxes, Blu-ray players, home media PCs, multiple gaming consoles, home theater equipment, and more are shoved onto TV stands, being sleek and flat are critical. The PS3 and Xbox 360? Total failures. The Wii and Wii U? Nintendo gets it. Flipping them vertically, they can squeeze just about anywhere too. Try that with the high venting PS3 and 360.
Gloss: Know what props up a fancy look like LEDs and curved boxes? A glossy finish. Know what that finish does? Creates a transport beam to fingerprint hell and serves to make one realize how dusty their homes are. Both the late generation Xbox 360 and first generation PS3s were slathered in reflective paint. The result? Suction of visually-impairing dirt and grime which, instead of adding to the beauty, buried it under the weight of human nastiness most of use try to hide thirty seconds after removing the wrap.
Slot-loading drives: Nintendo and Sony take the heat here. Sure, a plastic tray extending from the system doesn’t look as sharp as a system that munches on discs automatically, but if nothing else, they work. Added parts and motors inside a slot loader are expensive, built with unnecessary parts that are prone to break down. In the case of launch day PlayStation 3’s, the systems were built without an emergency eject, meaning if the system broke, the disc was stuck unless you took the entire system apart. That never happens with a tray-loading system, even when your design never accounts for failure.