It shouldn't be much of a surprise that Project Scorpio will be a major drawcard at this year's E3. And we'll no doubt hear more about the raw hardware, all the games it can play at 4K, and how nice HDR makes everything look. But there's one thing I badly want Microsoft to do with Project Scorpio, and it's a lesson they can learn from Sony.
To illustrate things, let's take a look at the PS4 Pro.
Two USB ports on the front helps, especially for anyone who endured the inconvenience of the lone port on the side of the original Xbox One. But for all of its failings, the Xbox One's side USB port had one massive advantage that Sony sort of ignored with the PS4 Pro: being able to get at the USB port itself.
Being off to the side is a massive pain for anyone who likes housing their consoles in a TV cabinet. But what's not annoying about it is the enclosure itself: there's space all around the port, and it's not embedded far enough into the console that it would pose a problem for USB sticks on the larger side of life.
Now let's compare that to the PS4 Pro, but a little closer up:
With a tape measure (apologies about the one-handed, pre-morning coffee photo):
Now while two ports is nice, and aesthetically it's pleasing enough, the design is a hell of a lot more annoying than it should be.
By embedding the port so far in - or having the chassis protrude so far - it means there are a whole bunch of thumb drives that don't fully fit, or can't fit into the USB ports at all. The original PS4 has this problem as well, but not quite as much:
It's frustrating because, save for the most gaudy novelty thumb drives, the only time you think about the size of your USB stick is whenever you're dumping files on it. Nobody actually thinks about whether their thumb drive will fit. And I'm not talking oversized swag drives that needed a juice cleanse before they could protrude into the land of Sony. I've got regular USB 2.0 and 3.0 sticks from major brands like Sandisk, Western Digital and other brands you would see in PC stores, sticks that couldn't squeeze between the bottom and middle partitions of the PS4 Pro.
Given that all of the ports on the PS4 Pro's rear are exposed in a normal, accessible manner, it's always confused me as to why form took such a vast precedence over function for the ports on the front. You know, the ports that people use the most. It's not for cooling, which you can see explicitly thanks to the official disassembly of the PS4 Pro:
So while it's probably a bit too late for Microsoft to make any revisions to the console either, I'd like to put in one last-minute appeal. Please, for all that is holy, don't do what Sony did with the PS4 Pro. Make sure there's plenty of room around the USB ports on the front or side. The last thing anyone wants to do is have to keep track of how fat their USB sticks are.