Hardware ReviewsPS4 vs Xbox One Comparison: Graphics, Specs, DifferencesHardware Reviews - RSS 2.0
Xbox One Hardware Design
The Xbox One is large. It is an obtrusive, big honking monster of an appliance - but it is not ugly. The alternating matte and glossy finish looks nice - a safe choice somewhere between industrial and home, with the size and straight lines pretty clearly attempting to signal that this is a Powerful Machine. Beyond that, it's not clear that there was any larger vision for the box other than that it hold hardware inside. It's bisected, with diagonal slats, but that seems like it's just to hide the vents. The integrated buttons are nicely hidden and react quickly: The logo doubling as power button and indicator light; the eject incorporated conveniently right into the housing for the disc slot. But the thing is too big, and not too quiet - though not nearly as loud as an Xbox 360. With other electronics, and competitors, shrinking their sizes, Microsoft seems to have found no need to make their console fit into people's increasingly crowded cabinets - and the huge power brick is a prime example of that. Where other consoles will probably not find a need to sell you a mini or micro version in the next few years, Microsoft will almost certainly want to.
The Kinect is fairly large, as well, without a custom setup you're not going to be mounting it on top of your TV. You'll either need a shelf above, or space in front of, your television. Woe to you if you like having a clean wall with a mounted TV and no cabinet nearby. The Kinect is large enough, in fact, that it has its own fan and heatsink. The cord that connects the Kinect to the console is thick, and seems like it'll stand up to some abuse, but it's very disappointingly short. Gamers who keep their consoles well away from the television will have to rethink their setups. For a mandatory component, the Kinect shows a distinct and disappointing lack of flexibility.
The Xbox One's controller and microphone are the best designed thing about it. The controller has a wonderful matte finish, so it won't show wear or grime very badly. The distracting, flashy home button is kept to the top of the controller, meaning it doesn't clutter the primary buttons and sticks. The microphone port on the controller is nicely integrated in the bottom center, making a lightweight connection with control buttons for the microphone very welcome. That connection is possibly the most next-gen thing about the console, and we'll probably see many interesting headphone peripherals by third parties before the life cycle is over. The only grave sin the controller commits, at least from a design perspective, is the omission of rechargeable lithium ion batteries as the default. Microsoft is clearly still paid off by Big Battery.
PlayStation 4 Hardware Design
The PlayStation 4 is clearly, obviously, and attractively designed. From the beveled faces to the single quarter of sleek plastic against the matte finish on the rest of the console, there's a guiding force here. The hardware accommodates the look and vice versa. With a relatively small form factor, not too much larger than, for example, the much less powerful Wii U, the PS4 can fit easily into nearly any cabinet. Further, it doesn't have a power brick, with the integrated supply making it much easier to fit the console where you want it to go.
The Playstation 4's controller looks good, and the buttons are well spaced. It certainly looks good, and the inclusion of rechargeable batteries is great - though the life is a little short for marathon sessions. The glossy finish on the controller is too bad, and easily shows smudges and dirt - you'll want to polish it fairly often to keep it nice. It's also disappointing to see a simple headphone jack. Likewise, the included headphone is incredibly basic, and for the vast majority of gamers should be replaced as quickly as possible. The PlayStation 4 camera is quite small, and its functionality isn't quite as smooth as one wants a voice command system to be. Even the biometric facial recognition to login makes you raise the controller - which ends up taking more time than just logging in normally. Nonetheless, it's unobtrusive, and only suffers for having a short cable that's a little too stiff - meaning that a slight brush on it will turn the camera wildly. Look out for your cat while playing.
Xbox One vs. PS4 Interface Hardware Design Comparison
Where the Xbox One is bulky and uninspired, the Playstation 4 is sleek, pretty, and designed to fit where you need it to be. Where the Xbox One wants you to design your living room around it, the PlayStation 4 lets you decide whether or not to do so. While both consoles' input devices are pleasant, it's ultimately a wash as the PS4's are more usable, while the Xbox One's input is forward thinking.