(Pocket-lint) – Somewhere amidst the different console generations, Sony decided to put less stock in all-round entertainment and focused far more on games, while its main home console rival opted for a more rounded, media-friendly approach. And it worked – the PS4 ended up in many more hands than the Xbox One.
However, it changed tact for this current generation, having introduced a machine that’s more sensitive to the needs of a wider audience. Its PlayStation 5 in undeniably a top-tier games console, but also embraces media playback and backward compatibility like never before.
It’s a strategy that also seems to have paid off, with sales well above initial expectations. Here are many of the reasons why.
What’s most impressive about the PlayStation 5 as a games machine is its ability to seamlessly continue to play your PS4 titles, while still feel exciting and new. Even a year or so after launch.
Its strangely massive body will no doubt cause some headaches as you consider where to house it, but at least it looks like something futuristic and different.
Our only worries are that the SSD will soon be filled to the rafters, and the DualSense controller becomes fragile after extensive use.
Still, this is an undeniably superb machine, taking Sony in directions it never trod before. That’s why we have scored it accordingly and overlooked the minor quibbles.
The plates also serve a purpose. They can be removed, even replaced with different colours, and underneath lies one of the largest fan units we’ve seen. Sony is clearly taking no chances on a repeat of the overheating issues experienced by PS4 Pro owners and has included hidden ports that, once exposed, provide easy access for vacuuming dust away.
On top of this, there are exhaust struts all down the rear and between the main unit and plates, to help guide heat away from the console. Certainly, in our experience, this results in silent and largely cool operation.
When switched on, that central unit also lights up either side, much like the PS4 and PS4 Pro had a light strip to show when it was sleeping or active.
You get a plastic base to use with the PS5, which is most at home standing vertically. However, it can also be attached under the side where the 4K Blu-ray disc slot sits in order to lay the behemoth horizontally. Either way, you are either going to need a lot of room in your AV furniture cabinet or a very forgiving partner or flatmate.
On the facia you get two ports – one USB 3.1, one USB-C. There are also physical buttons for on/off and disc eject. Around the back, you get another two USB 3.1 ports, a HDMI 2.1 output, Ethernet for wired internet, and a figure-of-eight power socket.
There’s no doubting that the PS5 looks odd – but we like it. It’s unique and so far removed from the PS4 and PS4 Pro that it genuinely feels different to previous console generations.
Also radically different is the DualSense controller. It continues with some of the technologies first introduced with the DualShock 4 but adds significant new ones for good measure.
The shape of the DualSense is more Xbox than PlayStation, and while that might come as a shock to some die-hard fans, you soon get used to it. Same with the slight ridge around the underside that apes the faceplates on the console – it feels odd at first, but not for long.