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Interviews

The man who built PS Vita

CVG meets Takashi Sogabe, designer of Sony's new handheld (not to mention the Walkman)

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Maybe it will become thinner in the future, but the engineers would have to come up with a means to do that. The main effort for me was to make this product happen. The buttons and analogue sticks were perhaps not in the best position from a design point of view, but we felt they were the best solution from a publisher's point of view.

Do you feel that you are in a design competition with Apple these days?

Apple and Sony come from a totally different mould. Apple covers less categories of consumer electronics. Sony was originally like Apple is now - for example, originally when I was a designer, I was given a piece of wood, and asked to create a Walkman of that size. But now Sony is a lot bigger than previously, with increased categories of devices, so you can't compare the two companies in design terms.

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Talking about the PS Vita, if I had persisted on the subject of its thickness, I would have had to look at the whole product concept, including functionality and gaming feel, so it is hard to compromise on certain respects.

Did you experiment with different materials when designing the PS Vita?

As a designer, I wanted to use metal rather than plastic, but because there are a lot of antennae in the body, we couldn't use metal.

How did you decide on the optimum size for the screen?

The PSP had a 4.3-inch screen, but we knew the PS Vita would have a higher-resolution screen. So if we kept it at 4.3 inches, it would have less impact than if the screen was bigger. So we had to come up with the optimal screen size. There was a lot of discussion, and we came up with 5 inches as being best. We also had an idea to make a 5.5-inch screen, but we had to think about operability, as it is a portable device.

Was the decision to opt for analogue sticks rather than slide-pads an easy one?

We had been developing the idea of dual analogue sticks for a long time - the PSP used slide-pads. Making analogue sticks this small required very much effort on the engineering side, so we are very proud of this technology - it was very difficult to design.

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