For my first usability post, I have chosen my new, shiny, modern looking, and incredibly powerful Playstation 4. This was my main Christmas present, and I’ve loved it so far. It’s had a couple hiccups so far, with booting into safe mode or games crashing on me for no apparent reason, but that’s expected from the first model of anything. System software updates will iron out the kinks over time. But for the most part, I love the PS4. The controller is fantastic, the games look and play amazingly well, and the user interface is great. Very sleek and user friendly. However, with all that said, there are two things that I hate about the PS4 and these things are not very useable at all.
Pictured above are the two capacitive touch buttons on the front of the PS4. The one on the right is the power button, and the other is the eject disc button. However, unless you look at the quick start guide when opening the PS4 and first attempting to use it, (I mean, who really does? The excitement of opening a shiny new gaming console cannot wait for reading a quick start guide.) you would never know that the buttons actually exist. Like I said, they are capacitive touch “buttons” but they aren’t actually buttons. You, as the user, have no feedback that those buttons actually exist and do something until you press them accidentally and hear a beep, signifying that you either pressed the power or eject button. When it beeps, the action is already in motion before you realized what you did. So, when I was setting up my PS4, I plugged it in before I sat it down on the floor where it would sit permanently. Therefore, as I picked it up to plug in more cables, I accidentally and unknowingly turned on the console before I had any other cables plugged in, or my TV on for that matter. So I had to rush to plug everything in and hope that I either didn’t mess anything up by doing that or that I was missing necessary first time start up info. So that experience wasn’t very user friendly to someone who couldn’t sit and read the quick start guide first, which I suspect that a lot of people don’t.
Not only that, but the labeling of which button is which is AWFUL. As you can see above, the logos or pictures describing either eject or power are INCREDIBLY small. You literally have to have your face up against the console to see those. To take that picture above, my phone was nearly touching the console and the logos came out blurry because I was that close and they are that small. So, in my first couple weeks of using the console, I would sometimes hit the power button, wanting to hit the eject button, which did not make me happy. It takes the PS4 about 15-45 seconds to shut down. (I think depending on how hot it got and how long the fans need to stay on) Then, I would have to wait for it boot up again to attempt to eject the disc again and play another game. One time I even hit the power button AGAIN by mistake. Not very user friendly. Once you have gained experience with the touch buttons, they’re okay, and just okay, but I would have much preferred something that was much more user friendly for the two critical buttons. It is possible to both eject discs and power the system down from the user interface, so I find myself doing that much much more than actually using those awful buttons. Next time Sony, please design your buttons in such a way that I know they exist by just looking at the console.