Q&A: Designers Talk Slimmer, Lighter PS Vita

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Q&A: Designers Talk Slimmer, Lighter PS Vita

This week saw the long-awaited release of the new PS Vita, which features a slimmer, lighter design, enhanced battery life, and 1GB of onboard storage, in addition to a host of subtle refinements. We caught up with two key individuals responsible for the new PS Vita design — Taichi Nokuo, UX Platform Design Group for the SCE Corporate Design Center, and Mika Nagae, Strategy and Product Planning Dept — to learn more about how this elegant overhaul came to be.

Slimmer, Lighter PS Vita

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PlayStation.Blog: Have you been involved with designing other PlayStation hardware? If so, what?

Taichi Nokuo, UX Platform Design Group for the SCE Corporate Design Center: Yes, I have been involved with the Pulse wireless stereo headset, PlayStation Move charger, PS Vita TV (available in SCEJA regions), and I am also involved in Project Morpheus. A lot of wearable hardware!

PSB: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced? How difficult is it to strike a balance between keeping certain design elements and changing others?

Taichi Nokuo: I personally think there is always some kind of challenge involved when working on a new design. I think hardware design is, overall, very challenging.

When designing the new PS Vita system, I took general button positions and ease of use into consideration. I aimed to design a hardware that felt intimate, and something that fit comfortably in the users’ hands. I had extensive conversations with the engineers so I was able to see the hardware’s internal structure, and understand how to achieve my goals.

The new PS Vita inherits the overall silhouette of PSP and the first generation PS Vita, but I also tried to accentuate its freshness, lightness, and slimness. I also incorporated our vision that a new world of PlayStation is about to unfold with the launch of PS4.

Slimmer, Lighter PS VitaSlimmer, Lighter PS Vita

PSB: Tell us about your approach to redesigning the new PS Vita — what were some of the key areas you wanted to improve and address?

Mika Nagae, Strategy and Product Planning Dept: The concept of the new PS Vita was “casual, easier to use, and makes users want to play their favorite games every day.” I think users will be able to tell when they actually hold the new system in their hands, but the thin, light, and round silhouette makes the system very comfortable to hold, allowing users to play their games continuously over longer periods of time.

We also improved the shape of the buttons and adopted a micro USB port to further enhance usability. I encourage both new users and current PS Vita owners to go and try out the new design!

PSB: When did you start working on the redesign of the new PS Vita, and how long did it take overall?

Taichi Nokuo: I began designing around spring of 2012. I continued to work on it until the beginning of 2013. So overall, it probably took me a little less than a year.

Slimmer, Lighter PS Vita

PSB: How were you able to reduce the weight of the new PS Vita?

Mika Nagae: We optimized and reduced the number of components, and also downsized the circuit board. The optimization of the internal mechanical structure and materials also contributed to the lighter design.

PSB: The new PS Vita incorporates many smaller design changes. Why did you decide to make these revisions?

Mika Nagae: The new PS Vita inherits the overall design of the current PS Vita, but also incorporates many new elements. The shape of the Start button, Select Button, and PS button is slightly larger than its predecessor, and has a round convex shape so that it’s easier to push.

Furthermore, the new system features the power indicator and notification indicator at the top of the system so users can see the status of their PS Vita just by a quick glance. The new PS Vita’s rear touch pad is decorated with a simple dotted pattern to indicate the area where users can tap, and we also placed the PlayStation family logo at the very center of the touch pad.

Slimmer, Lighter PS VitaSlimmer, Lighter PS Vita

PSB: Do you ever find design inspirations in unlikely places?

Taichi Nokuo: I get inspiration when I’m eating good food, especially sushi and Korean barbecue. I also like to play the drums, so being in a music studio sometimes inspires me as well. I think I come up with more ideas when I’m relaxed.

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8 Author Replies

  • 1st :)

  • Non-proprietary memory cards, please.

  • Should have included a much, much better Wifi chip.

  • @Groenner aren’t we past that idiocy? Apparently not. :(

    Now… how about a comparison of the new LCD screen vs. the OLED? Which is better?

    • They’re very similar – OLED has some advantages in saturation, but the new LCD one looks very nice.

  • Just got my new vita the other day and am very impressed. My only problem is that my 8gb memory card is already filled up from the free plus games, which is not exactly a problem I guess.

  • Whats the difference between the changes regarding the substitution of the OLED to LCD display?

    Will sony release and adaptor (micro-usb/old vita connector)? It would be nice to use the vita external battery on the new model and other devices on it. (Why use a different/prioritary connector from the beginning, anyway…).

    PLEASE: We need the 64GB ASAP (hopping for the 128 GB). Is there any news regarding this?

  • So, are you ever going to tell us what the mystery port was originally going to be used for?

    Also, love the redesign. Now may we have vita tv and 64gb memory cards? Please and thanks.

    • Wish I knew! Believe me, I was asking when the original model launched :) No word on 64GB or Vita TV, but will keep you guys posted.

  • I wonder what they did with the aux port. I have the original and still haven’t seen/heard anything about what it was used for, or if there was anything planned in the past for it.

  • New colors? When?

  • OuterSpaceJunky

    I’ll be curious to hear from those of you with huge hands. I still consistently struggle to hold my Vita comfortably, because it just feels too small for my hands. A slimmer Vita seems like that it would only make matters worse.

    For comparison, I wear size XXL or larger gloves.

    • I’ve got big hands and believe me, the new Vita is MUCH more comfortable. It’s more ergonomic, and the reduced weight and thickness make it a lot easier to hold.

  • @aventest: No, we haven’t past that idiocy as you saw. Still fun :) And why bother?

  • Now the next big thing on the table. Cut the price of hte memory sticks by 75% they are way to expensive for the capacities they offer. 64 gigs should never be 109 dollars. For 109 dollars I can get a SSD with 2 times the capacity if not more. I can get a 256 gig USB thumb drive. I can get 3x64gig Micro SD cards…… I can buy a 1tb hard drive.

    64 gigs at 109 dollars is laughable. Please reduce the price its way too high. Even the 32 gig stick mirrors prices from more than 3 to 4 years ago. It’s ridiculous.

  • Now all we need is non-proprietary memory cards.

  • I just double dipped for one, and can say I am very pleased.

    I would love to see the Vita TV hit the west as well, as this would be a perfect way to merge my second home theater setup to my PS4.

  • about the vita tv and 64g memory card

  • I need multyple accounts on vita. please.

  • I’d really love to see the colored Vita 2000 models make their way to North America! That Lime Green version has had my attention since the original hardware announcement in Japan! Importing is an option with no region lock and it’s cheap enough now…but I’d really rather have a warranty and not have to worry about the “O”/”X” button swap that happens between Japanese and Western units.

    Please! :)

  • All matte finish would have been nice, or at least a color option that wouldn’t show prints so bad.

  • it’s really too bad I had to import the 64gb Vita memory card a few weeks ago. Japan gets it last year and you forget about the rest of the planet. The new Vita has got some great new features like better battery life and micro USB port. I’m sticking with my OLED Vita, one of the best looking portable device displays out there. How the colors pop!

    Now how about Vita TV?

    What about a Vita XL? A bigger screen would be rad.

  • The memory card issue is still a big issue. But it will never change for this system. They would sell more if we didn’t have to pay insane amounts for memory cards. Maybe they would sell more consoles without retarded expensive memory.

    That being said, I did finally just bite the bullet and get a 64 gb card. I already owned the hardware and needed more space. Never again though. As much as I like my Vita, if Sony ever has another portable, I will not buy it if it uses proprietary memory cards. At least with the PSP I could buy SanDisk cards cheaply.

    @10 I too am a XXL glove wearer and find that the old vita is a bit too small to comfortably play for much more than about 30 minutes stock. I bought a CTA Digital PS Vita Hand Grip from amazon for $13 and really like it. It adds some depth and some width and makes it very comfortable. I’ve played it on 3 hour plane rides with only a little hand fatigue. Well worth the $13.

  • What does the 1GB get used up with? It won’t hold very many games. Would it be for apps and saves while the memory card does the games?

  • if it launch oled version i buy,if not i will keep with my friend psvita 1010.i love mine.

  • @dark_angel69. The 1GB of onboard storage cannot be used at the same time as a memory card. It’s only one or the other, but not both.

  • Is it true if you delete a game of the vita the game save will also delete ??? If this is true that is a disappointment. The price now at $200 is not bad but the memory card coming in with only 8GB is too little it should of been at least a 32 GB card.

  • The new screen is terrible.

    All of my friends who were waiting for price drops etc… are now trying to get the original Vita before it disappears and only this newer, lesser version is available.

    If you had have stayed with the good screen you would have sold a lot more.

  • Also the new buttons are just ugly as sin and way too big, the tiny start/select was perfect, this thing looks like it was designed for the blind with the giant buttons.

  • @saab01 It’s true if you delete a game it deletes your save. Either backup your save to the cloud or backup to your PC or Mac using Content Manager app on Vita. This is how iPhones, iPads & Android devices work too, delete the App & everything is gone.

  • The questions were terrible, none of this is actually interesting.
    What is origin PS Vita mystery port was for?

  • Same level of backwards compatibility? Sadly, I’ll have to pass on this model too.

  • Wow it took you a year to do this? And it turned out this badly? You need a new line of work Vita re-designer.

  • @febwtf It does have backwards compatibility. You can play PSP & PS1 games on it.

  • I’m still really annoyed that the original OLED Vita has a built-in upscaler for 1080i video output to an HDTV and you decided to not use it in favor of the PlayStation Vita TV. What happened to the “it only does everything” concept that you could have brought from PS3 to Vita? Decisions like this makes it no wonder why I always read in business section of newspapers and magazines about how your company is bleeding so much money.

  • oversevethousand

    Can we please just get our PS1 and PSP games now? Please? None of this “the stars have to align” stuff – we know from a few weeks ago and from how Europe and Japan have had them forever that that simply isn’t true.

    Furthermore, Remote Play and Now DO NOT and WILL NEVER be as good as actual Vita titles. I can’t believe the idea of streaming games is replacing having actual games on here. It’s appalling.

  • You know what would have really been nice in a redesign?

    Ditching the overpriced proprietary memory cards that hurt sales of the original and replacing them with SDXC cards. :\

  • Overall the design is nice but blue light notification should have been kept the same were PS Button was then move it to the top. Their is no need for power notification but game card notification so we know its reading from Game Cards like first vita design had but without it being hidden from view. 1GB of built-in memory is joke; sorry to say it but 16GB built-in memory would have been the better called and combine it with vita memory card to increase storage even more like 16GB + 4GB,8GB,16GB,32GB,64GB to bigger numbers. LCD taking the place of the OLED was bad mistake but you needed way to cut cost down and its very understandable; just make sure to re-add the OLED back on the next VIta Design model with 16GB built-in memory, increase battery to 7-12 hours total if possible, make PS Button the blue light for notification, change the charger port back to its old version or include new Vita Stand with the console then.

    I would love to see the new VIta design have better screen to see it in day light. :) Overall we need new IP games and support for the Vita.

  • SDXC would of been nice, but then it would be easier to exploit. Look what happened with the PSP and it’s piracy problem. At least this way developers get paid for their work and can continue making more games.

    So like someone said above, on the old Vita what is that extra port on the top for?

  • Cut the prices for Memory Cards of RIOT! And add already a 128Gb Card for fck sake!

  • The PS Vita slim is inferior to the original Vita so why are you praising the person responsible for delivering an inferior product?

  • If you just had removed the proprietary memory card…

  • I love my OLED screen too much to sacrifice it in the name of ergonomics.

  • oversevethousand

    1.) Stop complaining about the card price people. The Vita has always been sold at far less than it should be, this one not even at $150 when you take out the stuff it comes with. If you’re planning on gaming and using that card, a one time purchase of even a $100 64 GB card is nothing compared to the Vita itself and all the games. Seriously.

    2.) For those complaining about the screen? While I agree it’s a downgrade, it’s a necessary one. OLED screens are too costly, but with this, the console price and even memory card prices will continue to drop. Look at how cheap this bundle is. Seriously.

    Now, regarding the design, I do have one complaint: Why no screenshot button? Hitting home and start doesn’t work when, if you don’t time your press right, the machine registers start and skips over the scene in question completely and instead of having a screenshot you lost a part of the story. There has got to be a better way to implement that. Also, only being able to take one shot at a time? Is it because it takes that long for one shot to save or what?

  • There’s no reason to change my beatiful Oled version to a inferior LCD, i’ll buy a new one if Sony put at least a Led version with Non-proprietary memory cards in the market for the future.

  • 100$ is too expensive.

  • @TurismoM3 lol.

  • I agree with @40, oversevethousand. Sony is not making it easy for people to steal their IP and you shouldn’t expect that. Instead, they are compensating us with all the Plus games so that more than makes up for any perceived price gouging. Also, not being allowed to use multiple accounts is the same policy they have on the PSP. Again, they’re trying to protect themselves against rampant game sharing which of course none of us would ever do, right?

    But I’m not buying a Vita slim until there’s a color I like and it’s not boring black.

  • I can get 64gb Vita cards for $80, guess you people don’t have any idea where to look other than amazon or ebay? haha

  • How about a decent sized memory card for US Customers? Sony really dropped the ball with the overpriced, underperforming proprietary memory. I would buy twice as many Vita games if I actually had room for them.

    @45, instead of laughing at people, why don’t you share where you can get a 64gb card for $80?

  • >>>1.) Stop complaining about the card price people.
    I don’t see any reason for this overprice. Come on, VITA memory sticks are not better than any other memory cards.
    >>>2.) For those complaining about the screen? While I agree it’s a downgrade, it’s a necessary one.
    Does it cost 99$? No? Why so? Show me any reason why new VITA must be more expensive, than any modern smartphone, which has the same hardware specs?

  • Why didn’t you move the speakers to the bottom of the unit? It’s very easy on the 1K to have your thumbs go over them and block the sound and that looks to be the same with the 2K.

  • Has the button clickiness been removed?…can’t tell by the pics.

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