By this point, the shiny veneer of newness has worn off of Sony's rapidly approaching Vita and we're all pretty used to how the thing looks. Not everyone has seen it in person yet, granted, but we've all seen it, and its PSP-ish profile and itty-bitty analogue sticks have settled into that comfortable zone of mental familiarity.

The device could have been remarkably different, however. For instance, Sony designer Takashi Sogabe (responsible for the Walkman, among other things) had originally intended for the Vita to be a much more svelte device: "The original design of the PS Vita, for example, was very much thinner than the current retail product," Sogabe said during an interview with The Guardian. "From a designer's point of view, thinner is better-looking, but the engineers wanted to put all the features in. Maybe it will become thinner in the future, but the engineers would have to come up with a means to do that."

There was also a time when the Vita's shape had more in common with the DS than the PSP: "We came up with various patterns, including a clamshell one. Then we discussed it with a lot of publishers and settled on this shape." In the long run, Sony decided that it would be a better idea to transfer the PSP's brand equity to the Vita by having the devices look similar.

One major difference between the PSP and Vita, however, is the latter's massive screen, which at 5 inches makes it the biggest screen on any dedicated portable gaming device this side of an iPad. That figure had started at 5.5 inches, according to Sogabe, but was scaled back seeing as this is a portable device and everything. We like Sony's ambition with hardware design, but we'd still rather have the real Vita over a giant, wafer-thin abalone.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.