Don't get too attached to those disk trays and buttons, because Epic Games co-founder and VP Mark Rein thinks that consoles are going to get a pretty significant redesign.
The future of consoles won't necessarily have anything to do with that big screen TV that has pride of place in your lounge. Rein says that future consoles will be smaller, more mobile devices that you can carry with you wherever you go.
Rein described a new console - in his example it was a new Xbox - which was very different from existing designs. This theoretical device was a tablet that had more power than the Xbox 360, and had Kinect technology built in, so you could play games like Kinect Adventures or Dance Central wherever you liked. Once you got the tablet home, it would wirelessly connect to your TV, and you could use a wireless controller, or even a cellphone, to play a new Gears of War game.
"Today the companies making the hardware going inside phones know that games are important," he said. "They are incorporating processors that suit games and are as powerful as a PC or console. We're turning a corner with GPUs and CPUs that support the intensive gameplay functions we need." He said that there was an opportunity for consoles to grow into something more than just games machines, and that they could also contain productivity apps and media collections, becoming a more central part of people's day to day lives.
What Rein is describing doesn't really sound like a console at all, but rather some future iteration of the iPad or similar device. That's not to say that it's a bad idea, but it doesn't seem something that Microsoft or Sony would do instead of making a traditional console. Instead, it seems like a completely different product line that would run parallel to the Xbox or PlayStation.