Live Area Menu System
The main interface differs quite a bit from the traditional X-bar that the PS3 and PSP use, and relies heavily on its new touch capabilities. Unfortunately the menu is controlled exclusively using the touchscreen, which means you can’t use the analog stick or any other buttons to move or open any programs. This is nice and all, but sometimes I don’t want to get my screen dirty right before I’m about to play a game.
The top portion of the interface displays small icons about the current system status. On the left are icons that show the current enable communications (WIfi, Bluetooth, etc). In the center are the currently opened applications, and the Home icon always appears. To the right of that is the system time and battery level, and to the right of that is a bubble that shows any notifications (trophies earned, downloaded programs, etc).
Taking a nod from Smartphone interfaces, the system organizes icons into “pages” that are indicated on the left side of the screen. Up to 10 icons can be on any single page, and users can “flick” their fingers up and down to navigate between pages, and can flick left and right to scroll through opened programs. You can have up to 6 programs open at one time (but only one game at a time), which allows you to easily pause the game, enter system confirmation and adjust screen brightness, and then return to your game. This also helps reduce load times, as you can just keep the programs open and switch between them, as you would in a multitasking operating system.
You can hold down one of the icons for a few seconds to get into “edit” mode, which lets you create and delete pages, organize or delete icons, and get meta information about the programs like the file size, version and publisher. There is also an icon in the bottom-right that lets you change the theme for each of the pages, so you can easily have a different color associated with each page. You can exit the Edit mode by touching a Return arrow on the bottom left corner of the screen.
Many programs have a folded edge on the top right of the page, which you can pull and drag much like flipping a paper page. Performing this action closes the application, much like pulling a post-it note from a wall. Instead of closing the page, you can just leave it open and keep it in memory.
Nearly all programs have a “launch” page. Instead of launching a game directly, a Live Area page displays. This page provides options about the game you’re about to launch… such as downloading an available patch, browsing the electronic manual, or using online features.
This new “Live Area” crossbar does take some getting used to, but is an elegant and clever solution to the system, and you’ll wish that Sony’s other consoles had them.
The system has several internal sensors much like the SixAxis controller. The system has motion sensors that sense left/right and forward/back tilt.
Let’s look at the System Settings next…