A new console generation is usually something you can see. It’s measured in pixels and polygons. When we moved from the NES to the Super Nintendo, it wasn’t hard to spot the difference between 8- and 16-bit Super Mario games. It was just as clear when games evolved to support 3D worlds and, later, HD graphics. Your eyes told you this was something new. It was obvious. With the PlayStation 5, things aren’t so simple.

Yes, games look better, particularly if you have a high-end television to take advantage of features like 4K, HDR, and 120fps. But it’s not the dramatic shift that we’ve seen with past generations. Instead, the biggest changes come from how the experience feels. Games run smoother, load faster, and are accompanied by a new controller that further immerses you by using adaptive triggers and more subtle vibrations. On their own, each of these elements is a nice upgrade over the PS4. But when you put them together, you have an experience that qualifies as next-gen.

The problem is you can’t see this generation. You have to feel it.


WhenWhen it comes to the design of the console itself, the most obvious thing is its scale. It’s not just big, it’s historically big, one of the largest video game consoles ever built. It measures in at 390mm (15.4 inches) tall, 260mm (10.24 inches) deep, and 104mm (4.09 inches) wide. It’s big enough that it’ll probably require some careful planning to fit it into your existing entertainment setup. (Right now, I have mine all by its lonesome on a side table beside my TV stand, for lack of better options.)

It’s not just the size, though. Whereas many gadgets are now designed to fit seamlessly into our homes, the PS5 goes in the opposite direction. It is not shy. Sony doesn’t want you to tuck this away in an entertainment cabinet where no one can see it. The PS5 has what I think of as a robotic clam look, with two huge white panels surrounding a shiny black interior. One panel features a nice etched PlayStation logo, and the console comes in two varieties with slightly different designs: the $499.99 base model features a disc drive that juts out of the right side, giving it an asymmetrical look, and the $399.99 digital edition has no drive and is more uniform as a result. Either way, the PS5 is an intimidating machine and certainly an acquired taste.

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