We got our first hands-on with the PS5 console hardware, and while its stark look doesn't scream PlayStation, there's a striking familiarity in the DualSense controller that feels comforting.
Upon opening the PlayStation 5's box, the first thing that came to mind was that this console is much better looking in person than in its marketing images. This is the first time Sony has delivered something other than a black console at launch since the original PlayStation, and that decision has raised some eyebrows. Of course, it's always hard to tell from white-background retailer images exactly how a console will look in your entertainment center or feel in your hands. Thankfully, the PS5 is a good-looking console, even if its design doesn't scream PlayStation.
The PS5's form factor is made up of three distinct parts: two matte white plates and a glossy black midsection. The black midsection is broken up by vents on both sides for heat dispersion, and the gloss of this entire section looks great next to the matte plates. It's a nice contrast that makes the stark, unique design of the PS5 work. As someone who thought the console looked garish in its product images, it's hard to deny how nice the console looks in person.
Flipping the PS5 over, the black vents comb across the entire back of the midsection. This is also where you'll find HDMI, power, ethernet, and two USB 3.1 ports. The front features a USB 2.0 port as well as a USB-C 3.1 port. It's a little disappointing there isn't an extra USB-C port in the back, but the two USB-A 3.1 ports are going to be great for higher-end accessories that require them.
This particular PS5 features a disc drive, which you can find on the right side of the console when it stands vertically or on the bottom if it's positioned horizontally. For much of its history, Sony has designed consoles that look and work great in either position, though the PS5 is the first to include the stand in the box. This is likely because of the console's shape, which can't sit flat on its side.
Setting it up vertically requires you to pop off a little circular piece on the bottom and then screw the stand into that slot with the included screw. The stand itself features hooks that hang on to the back of the console in this position, securing it in place. The horizontal position, however, requires you to adjust the stand, so the hooks are positioned to the left. You then place the console on to the stand, while the hooks hang on to the edge--the included screw gets stored in the stand itself. It's not as secure and can easily fall off if you move the PS5, but this is something most people won't need to worry about.
And now to address the elephant in the room: the PS5 is the size of an elephant. Alright, it's not actually that big, but it will take up a considerable amount of space in your entertainment center. Vertically, it stands at 16 inches tall, about 10 inches deep at its thickest, and almost 3.5 inches wide. Horizontally, it measures in at almost 15.5 inches long, about 10 inches deep at its thickest, and almost 3.5 inches tall. This is really big. Where my entertainment center could fit a PS4 Pro and an Analogue Mega Sg, I can only fit the PS5 horizontally--thankfully, there's enough room for ventilation. However, if I position it vertically, I need to reserve a spot outside of my entertainment center for it.
Out of the box, the PS5 is accompanied by the new DualSense controller, which features some notable differences from the DualShock 4. First off, it's slightly bigger and features improved ergonomics, fitting the contours of my hands much more comfortably. With its increased size comes bigger L1 and R1 buttons as well as L2 and R2 triggers, giving your fingers more surface area to rest on. The D-pad also feels less stiff than the DualShock 4's, and knocking out the motions for Scorpion's teleports and Terry Bogard's Power Wave feels satisfying. The D-pad and face buttons are also made of translucent plastic, which gives them a nice, glassy look.
As for the analog sticks, the DualSense's are the same size as the DualShock 4's, and the tension is almost completely identical. The top of the DualSense's sticks, however, feature more grip around the edge and a slightly deeper concave shape. Moving them in different directions and rotating them feels very similar to the DualShock 4.
The Options and Create buttons are now more pronounced and easier to press, while the Touch Pad is significantly larger. The Home button is much less resistant but still feels responsive. Under the Home button, there's also a clicky mute button that turns off the built-in microphone. The DualSense controller features a 3.5mm jack on the button for headphones and headsets, transistors on both sides of the jack for dock charging, and a USB-C port on the top for charging and updates. Overall, the DualSense controller feels very familiar, yet slightly improved in some key ways that make it more comfortable to hold and use.
The PS5 is definitely a big change when it comes to Sony's history of console design. It doesn't look like a PlayStation in the way the PS3 and PS4 did. It features the form factor of a sci-fi corporation's high-rise tower and demands a large amount of real estate in your entertainment center. However, like those state-of-the-art buildings, its design is also striking, with a clash of matte and gloss that catches the eye. This may be decidedly un-PlayStation, but the DualSense controller extends a familiar hand, inviting you in and reminding you that--despite the grand design--this is still PlayStation.