Hands-on with the new ‘slim’ PlayStation 5: a weird goblin of a console

I’ve always had a soft spot for Sony’s refreshed, slimmed-down consoles ever since the adorable PS One. All the Sony consoles I’ve owned were launch versions that are bigger and goofier-looking than their eventual redesigns — giving me massive FOMO — but I think my love affair for “slim” PlayStations is now at an end with the new PlayStation 5.

If there’s ever been a PlayStation in need of a glow-up, it’s the PS5. Sony’s white-and-black obelisk is a gargantuan console with a design that you learn to live with more than you grow to love. The thought of course-correcting the PS5 design like Sony did with the George Foreman grill-style PlayStation 3 should be a slam dunk, but what we’ve now got with the $499.99 new PlayStation 5 and $449.99 new PlayStation 5 Digital Edition are some weird half-measures.

Design-wise, the new “slim” PS5 is indeed smaller. Sony says it’s been reduced in volume by “more than 30 percent,” but up close and in person, I alternate between feelings of “Oh yeah, that’s much smaller” to “Okay, it’s smaller… but it’s still a big boi!” The swooping curves and contours of the new PS5 can have you changing your opinion on its design on a minute-to-minute basis depending on what angle you’re viewing it from. It’s a byproduct of such a fussy and busy (and frankly, kind of ugly) design.

The slim looks more refined than its bigger, clunkier older sibling thanks to its shorter white covers, concave top curve, and panel lines cutting across its sides that divide shiny and matte finishes. However, the new PS5 also makes some really strange design decisions: 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 stands vertically on its own, though, if you want more peace of mind that it won’t tip over, the vertical stand is now an additional purchase for $29.99. (The original PS5 had a convertible stand for both horizontal and vertical positions.)

But the new PS5 at least has a little more going for it than just Sony’s strange design choices — it now has 1TB of built-in storage (up from 825GB on the original) and two front-facing USB-C ports instead of one USB-C and one USB-A. The only other tangible benefit is that the location of the removable disc drive’s eject button means we can finally stop mixing up the power and eject buttons that have looked way too similar since the PS4 days.

As for the removable disc drive, I’ll hand it to Sony for making it easy to detach or attach the drive without any tools. (It’s even easier than adding an M.2 SSD to the…