Console makers are supposed to make hardware that is both attractive and practical. You want easy access to USB slots and the power button, but you also want to enjoy looking at the big box stuffed next to your television for the next five to 10 years. Sony claims that the parallelogram look of the PlayStation 4 serves both schools of thought.
“We have this tilt, and it is not just a design thing — it also has functionality,” Sony Computer Entertainment manager of product planning Toshimasa Aoki told GamesBeat.
How does the sloping face and back of the PlayStation 4 have any impact on its practicality? Well, Aoki explained that, for example, it’s easier to press the power and eject buttons because they are staggered in this formation. The slant causes the eject button to sit a bit in front of the power button. That makes it easier for your finger to find the button and less likely you’ll hit one instead of the other.
“Also, the back side hides all the cable that you don’t want to see,” said Aoki.
While the profile of the PS4 doesn’t completely conceal the wires shooting out of the back, it does a good job of hiding the blocky bits of the USB and power cords when the console is lying flat. The black plastic of Sony’s console hangs over the uniform-looking cords like a canopy. It’s a neat effect that should appeal to people who obsess over a clean-looking entertainment center.
Sony also tried to check off both form and function when it comes to the front inputs. The face gradient is split into two sides. This again helps players delineate between the power and eject buttons, but it also creates a recess where the PS4 designers hid the USB ports.
In a vertical orientation, the PS4’s slant has other benefits. The side that juts over the back inputs can still hide the cords somewhat, but the position makes it easier to see and handle the inputs from the opposite side. I have a lot of trouble trying to pop an HDMI cable into the Xbox 360 or Wii U. I often have to unplug everything else from those consoles and pull them completely out to get the HDMI in. The slant design of the PS4 is at least trying to address that problem.