Over the course of my relationship with consoles there have been a few note worthy developments in their design and function. The most noticeable to me is the change from cartridge to CD based media. The consoles that used cartridges all had a very simple design. Input for cartridge. On/off power button. Reset button. Power input. Video input. Controller input. They were easy to use but not much to look at, usually made from a range of dull grey plastics. Even the Nintendo 64 released in 1996 kept this simple design and fondness for grey. At the time I guess function was more important than aesthetics. The switch to CD's didn't make much difference to begin with, consoles still had the same basic function and design.
Things made a big step with the release of the PS2 with its inclusion of a DVD drive. This marked a change in thinking from Sony, one that wanted to place their product at the heart of a customer’s home entertainment. Its sleek black design was intended to sit in the living room alongside the (presumably Sony) television set. Games consoles had stepped out of the shadows and become desirable consumer products in their own right. However, by doing so they had lost a lot of their rugged usability, after years of fairly heavy abuse my old Super Nintendo still works perfectly. I very much doubt today’s console will fare so well, just blowing on the cartridge won’t work anymore I'm afraid. The current generation of consoles continue the trend for designer entertainment hubs, now boasting Blue-ray players and high speed Internet access.