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Q&A: Designers Talk Slimmer, Lighter PS Vita

Sid Shuman's Avatar + Posted by Sid Shuman on May 08, 2014 // Senior Manager, Social Media

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.

//Add Your Own

143 Comments   8 Replies

51

+ PanTheMan16 on May 8th, 2014 at 1:09 pm said:

All nice things. Really. But let’s not pretend that the reason for this redesign wasn’t solely for Sony to save money by replacing the OLED display with LCD. If this “interview” wasn’t just a marketing there would have actually been a question about the display change. Actually, it’s highly likely that there WAS a question about that, but that part was removed before posting in the blog.


52

+ PanTheMan16 on May 8th, 2014 at 1:10 pm said:

marketing ploy~


53

+ SA-CharlieLima1 on May 8th, 2014 at 1:43 pm said:

I Really Like The New Select and Start Buttons But Second The Memory Cards Being Around The Price Of An External HDD Is Ridiculous!

I Just Bought A OLED Model Vita And Man Am I Glad I Did This Redesign Looks Early To Be A Fail

Battery Life Between the OLED Screens and LED Screens Could Be Interesting Though Only Time Will Tell


54

+ notoptimus on May 8th, 2014 at 1:56 pm said:

LCD is good.OLED is better. No regrets updating though. Battery life and micro USB charging are great. BL2 is my first game that actually uses the touchpad and I think accidental taps would be a pain on the original model’s larger pad.


55

+ TLSBill on May 8th, 2014 at 2:11 pm said:

I was all set to buy this when the announcement was made about the Borderlands bundle. That excitement faded on news of the screen change. So instead I bought the old model. Seeing as the screen swap was the biggest difference between the models, I don’t understand how it wasn’t even addressed in this post. The elephant in the room is looking at you Sid, and his name is OLED.. lol


56

+ CatatonicAlex on May 8th, 2014 at 2:13 pm said:

One thing they don’t mention is that dirty is easily suck around the screen’s border. It’s even more apparent in white Vitas


57

+ rabidninjamonky on May 8th, 2014 at 2:26 pm said:

I am glad for the redesign if it sells more vitas. Apparently the new vita bundle is selling great, Amazon, Target and Gamestop all sold out online! More vita’s sold means better games, maybe Sony will let Ken Levine finish Bioshock Vita now? Please Sony?


58

+ God-Of-Lyf on May 8th, 2014 at 2:38 pm said:

Not spending a dime on a vita till they up the storage & lower price on the memory sticks. Sorry not gonna bite just because you did what you always do (make systems slimmer) without making it a good investment. Seems like everything on the vita is coming to the PS4 anyways…


59

+ THA_STARKILLER on May 8th, 2014 at 2:48 pm said:

Sony, OLED, The Rear Touchpad, & the Smaller Start/Select/Ps Button were fine. Why would I want a worse Screen, Smaller Touchpad, or Larger ‘Start’ Buttons to accidently hit? Taichi Nokuo must be a horrible engineer. My Pulse Wireless Headset took a single foot Drop and no Longer ‘Pulse’ which was the main reason I bought Them, I have the GTAV Edition, but I’m assuming Their Design is the same.
If Borderlands 2 for Vita wasn’t downgraded from 4 Player to 2 Player, I would have Kept my Pre-Order, It made me Order the Vita Slim even with all the things I Dislike about it, because I knew I would be wanting Borderlands 2 eventually again(3rd time), but now that’s it’s not 4 Player, I no Longer want it, therefor Have absolutely no reason to get the Slim.
OLED VITA SLIM 3000 OR RIOT. And anything Designed by Taichi Nokuo I no longer want as well. No Vita TV for me, nor Morpheus, which is sad Because I’ve always wanted VR


60

+ PatricioUSA on May 8th, 2014 at 2:51 pm said:

non-proprietary memory cards.


61

+ sockerps on May 8th, 2014 at 2:57 pm said:

I’d like Vita TV to come over or adding TV out to the Vita too. Or at least get rid of the game white list so I can use an imported one.


62

+ snoop-dog123456 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:05 pm said:

can u please put in playstasion games on psvita and if u already have the psvita can i get the improved one?


63

+ Stringer2355 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:11 pm said:

Any plans to sell it w/o Borderlands 2 ? Would prefer a year of Playstation Plus instead.


64

+ snoop-dog123456 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:12 pm said:

can some one please fell me how to get the improved psvita?


65

+ snoop-dog123456 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:17 pm said:

im nust saying because the improved one looks like it will make my gaming experience better.


66

+ remanutd5 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:20 pm said:

Are Killzone Mercenary, Uncharted, Gravity Rush, Wipeout, Little Big Planet, Sly Cooper Thieves in Time profitable? If they are, where is the new batch of first party AAA games? So many franchises to choose from.


67

+ remanutd5 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:21 pm said:

Motorstorm, God of War, Gran Turismo, inFAMOUS, Knack, Ratchet and Clank just to name a few.


68

+ JMBlakk on May 8th, 2014 at 3:23 pm said:

Its sad to see how many people hating on the new vita. Yes it doesn’t have to OLED screen but it is still a good product and to be honest. If you never had a Vita you aren’t going to miss a screen you never had in the first place. For those who do not want to make the switch, don’t. This is a lighter version that feels amazing to be honest I like it better than the OG reminds me of the PSP


69

+ snoop-dog123456 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:24 pm said:

i kno like when i first got th psvita i thoght i could get does games but i guess not:(


70

+ ManjoumeThunder on May 8th, 2014 at 3:25 pm said:

The slim was just released, it’s too late for non-proprietary memory cards. More importantly, different colours like in Japan or even Vita TV.


71

+ iamtylerdurden1 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:25 pm said:

@ 24, 25 (boomstickbhg) The new slim is actually amazing, i own 2 OLED Vitas and now 1 slim and honestly the screen is beautiful on the slim take a look at the two screens in person and turn the brightness up on both and u really can’t tell the difference. The slim feel soo much better in hand and it’s idiotic to complain about the start/select/ps buttons being bigger as a bad thing because idk if u are aware but many developers are going to use those buttons as in game buttons mapped into the controlls for secondary things (even throwing grenades) ect. So it’s important these buttons are actually accessible and easy to use, u can’t tell me the small, flat, impossible to find start/select buttons on the old Vita were better?


72

+ snoop-dog123456 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:26 pm said:

so anyone have any idea ofgeting the lighter one because i wont it but i got a regular psvita


73

+ snoop-dog123456 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:31 pm said:

what do i do??!??!?!


74

+ iamtylerdurden1 on May 8th, 2014 at 3:59 pm said:

@ 67 – Umm God of War collection just released on the 6th, Sly Cooper collection is coming, a new stand alone inFAMOUS is being developed as we speak inFAMOUS: Electric Souls, of course we will get Ratchet in the future it’s just that insomniac is no longer a Sony exclusive studio and the relationship is strained right now. We got LBP, Uncharted, Resistance, Mlb the Show, Killzone, Assassins Creed (3rd party), Gravity Rush, Soul Sac, Tearaway, PS Allstars, Guacamelee (not AAA), MGS collection, Sly thieves in time, and many more. Every major 1st party studio has given something to the Vita, the Vita’s game library is spectacular and getting better. So what if there are alot of ports on Vita, why wouldn’t u want to play your favorite game on the go …. with cross-save – Borderlands anyone? Mlb 14, Guacamelee? Oh yeah and cross-buy.


75

+ Faythi on May 8th, 2014 at 4:34 pm said:

I would grab a new one if the new colors were available here. Until then I’ll stick with my launch one with the nice OLED <3


76

+ pablofsi08 on May 8th, 2014 at 4:55 pm said:

Lol at people asking “what is better, LCD or OLED?”

You should have kept the visual quality, it’s crucial. I will buy this when it’s like, $60 or something given the decrease in visuals.


77

+ pablofsi08 on May 8th, 2014 at 4:58 pm said:

Sony: you save way too much money in hardware when you make so much out of it afterwards with software. PS4 should have been a beast untouchable by the PC gamers, this Vita is a downgrade as well. Bad decisions.


78

+ Rezolution77 on May 8th, 2014 at 5:09 pm said:

Hate it.

Sleeker design =’s harder on adult sized hand, and still can not fit in a pocket.
1GB memory, alhough good for photos and a little music, isn’t big enough to download most Vita and PSP games.
Batteries are still non-removeable, unlike PSP.
Same software and support which is lacking. Texting even has issues.

I bought a Vita initially for dual analog, but enjoyed it more due to the OLED screen.

After constant liviing arrangement issues (married too young) found that this system is not only nice to revisit classics, but make as a solid portable entertainment center.

I can live with the lacking library, or even the rarity of PS2 titles making their way. But without a decent screen, not happy.
I hope this model makes it to hopefully your 3rd.


79

+ GummyCore on May 8th, 2014 at 5:28 pm said:

Should have included a microSD card slot. I know they want to use their own memory card for ‘security’ reasons, but there is no need to secure music and movie files owned by the user. Let people put their own media files on microSD cards.

Odd that the whole article doesn’t mention a thing about the change in the screen. Articles that advertise the positive but cover up the negative or totally skip over them always come across as shady.


80

+ PanTheMan16 on May 8th, 2014 at 5:55 pm said:

The propriety memory cards weren’t made for security. They were made for profit. If they truly were just for security, the prices would be reasonable.


81

+ tusunami on May 8th, 2014 at 6:14 pm said:

The complaints are are unnecessary I imported a 64 gb from Japan so everyone else needs to do the same. And the design I like what Sony as done personally remember you don’t have to buy the new design so stop crying.


82

+ ElektroDragon on May 8th, 2014 at 6:19 pm said:

Doesn’t matter how enhanced it. Lack of OLED is a dealbreaker. Should be a dealbreaker for everyone.


83

+ Porcupeth00 on May 8th, 2014 at 6:35 pm said:

when is Slim coming to EU?


84

+ Enigma777 on May 8th, 2014 at 7:38 pm said:

When is the US going to get the new 64GB memory Cards? I’m getting mighty tempted to just import one but $110 is quite steeeeeeeep!


85

+ PanTheMan16 on May 8th, 2014 at 8:29 pm said:

tusunami, get off the blog with your constant kissass b/s


86

+ bmrskate on May 8th, 2014 at 8:31 pm said:

This redesign is pushing me over the edge to finally buy a PS Vita. All of the new refinements come together in such an ideal package. The only small quibble I have is that there isn’t a color scheme with a satin matte finish on the PS Vita front face plate to prevent fingerprints, smudges, sweat, and oils from sticking. My PSP-3000 in Mystic Silver has that smooth texture that feels great and is easy to keep clean. I like how ergonomic the new Vita is!


87

+ PanTheMan16 on May 8th, 2014 at 8:33 pm said:

@ElektroDragon, AGREED. The display is by far the most important aspect. They can enhance everything else all they want but it’s still an inferior product. Only way I could even consider the slim model as being worth it is if it supported non-proprietary SD cards, which of course Sony would never consider because with the small library of games, it’s an important source of revenue. I just don’t get why we aren’t seeing an abundance of 3rd-party memory cards. Sony must really have that area locked down.


88

+ xeno3d on May 8th, 2014 at 9:02 pm said:

Was on the fence about this one but I picked one up today and I have to say I LOVE the new slim model. Feels much better in the hands, is lighter and is very sleek looking. Screen is top notch too. Always thought the OLED had blown out colors anyway. Nice job Sony!


89

+ Fardeenah on May 8th, 2014 at 11:39 pm said:

@12 KazeEternal u are completely right about the memory card prices, i could get 1 TB external hard drive for 99$ how can sony expect us to buy a 64 gb memory card for 106dollars? this is ridiculous

also its true that the mystery port is an video output that can connects to a tv with a 1080i output range. the thing is the old oled vita already is a vita tv! u just had to use its proprietary cable to connect whcih sony never released.

the slim is a downgrade, lcd is not as good , the vita feel cheap build quality and the touchpad no longer respects the 1:1 ratio that the original vita had compared to the screen, i wonder how u will play escape plan with it which relied on pinch both the screen and touchpad,

1 gb internal memory is a joke in 2014, grow up sony.

i dont want to sound like i am hating on the vita, i love my original ps vita, how about fixing some issues like price of memory card and price of digital compared to retail games? and a few Triple A games would be nice, no ports or hd remasters just vita exclusive.

also as much as i like indies, im kinda tired of vita games being mostly indie only these days. no bigge titles.


90

+ Burningskull on May 8th, 2014 at 11:52 pm said:

Instead of making a hand cramping device even more hand cramping put the vita games on the PS3 / 4. Other wise it looks nice.


91

+ iamtylerdurden1 on May 9th, 2014 at 12:14 am said:

@ 81, 88 – I agree, some of u ppl need to stop crying and parroting what u hear online – it is obvious that most of the ppl criticising the slim are ppl who own the old Vita and now feel bad that they missed out on the amazing BL2 bundle or they’re just trying to convince themselves that the old Vita is better because they own it. I own both and both are AWESOME! The slim feels like a dream and the new screen looks just as good, the screen has slight differences but that doesn’t mean it’s worse.


92

+ PS_man1984 on May 9th, 2014 at 12:28 am said:

“SD cards would of been nice, but then it would be easier to exploit. Look what happened with the PSP and it’s piracy problem.”

Bull crap. 3DS and every other mobile device uses normal SD cards. Don’t give Sony excuses for being greedy. Are you OK with the Xbox 360′s proprietary hard drive too? Thank God Sony didn’t do that with the PS3 and PS4.


93

+ PS_man1984 on May 9th, 2014 at 12:33 am said:

I bet you guys would be OK if Samsung made a proprietary memory card for their Galaxy phones. Stop accepting all this proprietary crap Sony forces down our throats. It was bad enough when Microsoft made those custom hard drives for the Xbox 360. Sony let’s use normal hard drives on their home consoles, so why do they keep pushing proprietary cards on their handhelds? SD cards are the industry standard that every mobile device uses, even the 3DS.


94

+ iamtylerdurden1 on May 9th, 2014 at 12:34 am said:

It’s funny too, when psblog released that Borderlands 2 trailer last month these same self deprecating haters crawled out and said it looks horrible, has a terrible framerate, the graphics look awful, and the #1 complaint i heard is that the lag was sooooo bad. Well now it’s out and u guys are flat wrong on every account, maybe some of u read that the game was having problems in development ect and were just parroting that? Now u guys are reading more online dogma about the screen and using someone else’s opinion as your own …. again.


95

+ cowmamba on May 9th, 2014 at 12:42 am said:

All of these complaints and 98% of you people have never held the PS Vita Slim. The thinner body actually makes it slightly easier to hold, even with larger hands, shocking, I know! The LCD is not THAT bad at all. It’s not the same screen that was in the PSP. Speaking of PSP, do you remember how ugly those screens were? Nobody complained about that, now did you? You dealt with it because that’s all that we were given back then. If Sony had launched the Vita with an LCD, this would be a non-issue, there would be zero complaints about them ‘mucking up the screen’. They are doing this to cut production costs so they can lower the price of the Vita eventually. It makes sense. Yeah, the OLED is pretty, but the eventual burn-in isn’t. Oled degrades over time, who knows how long they might last.

Yes, the lack of AAA titles STINKS! But don’t let that hold you back. Killzone, Tearaway, Little Big Planet, Uncharted, Hotline Miami, Soul Sacrifice, Gravity Rush, Wipeout, Need For Speed, Rayman, Unit 13, Odd World Stranger’s Wrath and more are amazing games to have and to play on the Vita. 8 of those mentioned titles are Vita exclusives and they ROCK! There are countless indie titles on the Vita too.


96

+ cowmamba on May 9th, 2014 at 12:42 am said:

People are selling themselves short because they shut down immediately when they hear the word “indie”. There are some amazing Indie titles on the Vita and many more are to come. Did you forget that many of the AAA developers started out as indie devs? If you’re a TRUE gamer, you would be open to any and ALL games that are coming to the Vita. Sure, some genres or stories aren’t your gig, I get that. I don’t like certain types of games, but it doesn’t mean those games shouldn’t exist. I am worried the Vita will become an Indie-only machine just as much as the next guy, but at the same time, I embrace the platform and want to see it succeed.

And of course we’ll get colors! Haven’t you ever noticed that we ALWAYS get 1 standard color for a few months and then Sony trickles out new colors. They did it with the PS2, Ps3, PSP and of course PS Vita. It’s nothing new.

I think the people that are complaining the most should try to actually get their hands on the Vita slim or launch Vita and actually play it. You might just change your mind about it. It’s a fantastic console that has gone somewhat unappreciated, but here’s to hoping more people buy them and more developers make games for it! Viva La Vita!!!


97

+ iamtylerdurden1 on May 9th, 2014 at 1:01 am said:

@ 92 – Ur countering your own argument saying “Sony is greedy” but then they let u remove the hard drive and upgrade it with bigger, cheap, non Sony hard drives unlike bloodsucking xbox. If they were truly greedy wouldn’t they have pulled an xbox with the hard drive? Or do what the 360 & xbone do with the controller, which is laughable in 2014 your 500$ xbone doesn’t have an internal battery instead they require u to put AA batteries in the controller (seriously they do) or u have to spend 30$ more to get a bulky plug & play charge kit which is pure junk.


98

+ Einhander138 on May 9th, 2014 at 1:23 am said:

This doesn’t solve the problem of the outrageously over-priced memory cards.


99

+ iamtylerdurden1 on May 9th, 2014 at 1:39 am said:

@ 92 – Yeah Nintendo is the picture of value, look at the crappy 3ds xL – it costs 200$ and that screen is truly doo doo and the games are 40$ for games that have 1/3 the pixels and cost far less to make than Vita games. You think any DS games took half as much money to make as Killzone Merc or do u think any DS game is even 1/4 the size of GoW collection on Vita (15.5gb) yet they charge the same amount for inferior less expensive technology. Look at the price of the wii u when it released. Sony was selling the Vita at a loss and considering how much better the Vita’s tech is than the 3DS(xL) they should be selling it for twice what the 3DS xL sells for. The Vita is great value even with the memory cards (which already had a price cut) & the slim comes with an 8gb card for free anyway. Also, u don’t need a huge memory card if u have a PS3 because u can back your whole digital Vita library up on the PS3 & pull & swap games from it when u please.


100

+ avluis on May 9th, 2014 at 2:13 am said:

@99 – iamtylerdurden1 – LOL! No need to go full retard on these people, not worth it. Just want to make sure you fact check on that GOW Collection being 15.5GB, technically not possible to do on a PS Vita card as the max confirmed size was only 4GB, but that is something that can be upgraded, best way to check this is by buying GOW Collection from the PS Store.

To answer a few questions I saw here:

The PS Vita Slim keeps the same click feel of the buttons like the OG PS Vita.
The curved re-design actually helps you hold the PS Vita better, especially if you have big hands, like me, compared to the OG System.
The LCD/LED screen is a modern style screen, it is brighter than the OLED screen, specially outside, and will last much longer than the OLED screen in the long run.
The improved electronics and LCD screen gives the slim about an 1 1/2 extra battery.


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