May 30, 2024
PS5. PlayStation 5, console, digital edition

Ever since the charming PlayStation One, I’ve had a sweet spot for Sony’s redesigned, slimmed-down consoles. All of the Sony consoles I’ve had were launch models that were bigger and goofier-looking than their subsequent redesigns, giving me major FOMO, but I believe my love affair with “slim” PlayStations has come to an end with the new PlayStation 5.

If there was ever a PlayStation in need of a facelift, it’s the PS5. Sony’s white-and-black obelisk is a massive console with a design that you learn to live with rather than adore. The idea of course-correcting the PS5 design, like Sony did with the George Foreman grill-style PlayStation 3, should have been a no-brainer, but what we now have with the $499.99 new PlayStation 5 and $449.99 new PlayStation 5 Digital Edition are some strange half-measures.

A size, 30% smaller

 The new “slim” PS5 is definitely reduced in size. Sony claims that the volume has been lowered by “more than 30 percent,” yet up close and personal, I oscillate between “Oh yeah, that’s much smaller” and “Okay, it’s smaller… but it’s still a big boi!” The new PS5’s sweeping curves and shapes will have you altering your mind about its design on a minute-to-minute basis depending on which angle you’re looking at it from. It’s an unintended consequence of such a fussy and cluttered (and honestly, sort of unattractive) design.

Improved “Alien” look for PlayStation 5

Because of its shorter white covers, concave top curve, and panel lines running across its sides that distinguish glossy and matte finishes, the thin appears more elegant than its larger, clunkier older sister. The new PS5 also makes some odd design choices: the disc drive looks even more like a strange growth jutting out of the console’s side, the lack of vent fins at the top makes its gaps look prototype-ish or incomplete, and the cat ear-shaped feet for propping it up horizontally are a joke for an included “stand.”

The console sits vertically on its own, but if you want to be sure it won’t tip over, a vertical stand is now available for $29.99. (The original PS5 included a convertible stand that could be used in both horizontal and vertical orientations.)

PS5. PlayStation 5, console, digital edition

PlayStation 5 take less space, but more has more storage

But the new PS5 has more to offer than simply Sony’s odd design choices: it now offers 1TB of built-in storage (up from 825GB on the original) and two front-facing USB-C connections rather than one USB-C and one USB-A port. The only other real advantage is that the placement of the eject button on the portable disc drive means we can finally stop confusing the power and eject buttons, which have looked much too similar since the PS4 days.

Detachable disc drive

Regarding the detachable disc drive, I applaud Sony for making it simple to detach and attach the drive without the need of tools. (It’s even easier than adding an M.2 SSD to the PS5, which is still feasible, luckily.) But I’m left wondering, “Why?” Sure, someone who is unhappy with their Digital Edition PS5 can simply purchase a disc drive and install it themselves, but they will wind up spending more in the process because the Digital Edition now costs $449.99 and the drive add-on costs $79.99.

PS5. PlayStation 5, console, digital edition

Connecting the PS5

And, as previously noted, setting up the disc drive requires an internet connection – even if the disc drive comes attached to your console. Setting up your console without access to the internet? Most users are unlikely to experience this, but if you do, you won’t be able to do anything until you connect to Sony’s servers at least once. You’re even warned that factory resetting your console requires an internet connection to fully unpair the disc drive, which begs the issue of what happens if you sell or purchase a used drive that wasn’t previously unpaired. 

The PS5 slim’s wonky disc drive, paired with some unusual design decisions, makes it a somewhat perplexing mid-cycle upgrade. Aside from its reduced size, minimal storage boost, and reconfigured port options, this update appears to benefit Sony more than its consumers by convincing them to spend more money on accessories. If you already possess an original PS5, there’s no need to upgrade, and if you’re purchasing today, there’s really no reason to go with the “fat” PS5 – at least, not until the slim becomes the sole choice.