What We Think
Sometimes being different just isn’t enough and in the case of the Tablet P this rings true. It’s a smooth, quite fast slate, however problems with battery, bezel area and design make it feel more of an experiement than an iPad alternative.
Some things in life just work, no matter how strange, while others don’t. Sony’s Tabllet P will hope to be the former and for those who are used to the conventional tablet it will take some time to work out. In fact, were were reminiscent of an ape from the opening scenes of Space Odyssey when we first got our hands on it.
The Sony is a clam style of tablet and a real attempt it seems to add some pizazz into the iPad clone tablet market. Sony’s original price, with 4GB of memory was £100 more than the iPad, so it wants to reinvent the market to stand as a success. The Tablet P weighs in at just 370g, a tad more than the Samsung Galaxy 7.0, though it has two 5.5inch screens – yes two.
First appearances matter and unlike others, you will be inclined to look again at the Sony. It’s a brave attempt and in some bizaree way, quite logical. It folds in half and fits in your hand like a clutch purse, or so we hear. It has a hardy curved silver outer shell and though made from plastic has a real my first tablet sturdiness about it. It has a couple of ports on one side, all covered up by flimsy flaps, though a clean aesthetic is the order of the day.
Upon opening the device sports two 5.5inch screens, surrounded by a huge bezel on it’s perimeter and a smaller one either side of the hinges, which splits the screen. This is a little odd and as we’ll see a later is a tad distracting. The device can be hinged at a number of angles up to 180 degrees and so is versatile. The hinges however are also well built and there’s some merit for innovation here, but also some glaring oversights. It’s strong and sturdy, but issues begin with the display’s split.
The screens are of the usual impressive Sony kind. The Tablet P sports two 5.5inch 1024x 480p screens, not exactly retina, but still good. Both of which combine to most parts of a degree to make a very vibrant screen that looks as good outdoors as inside. It’s a very clear screen, with great vibrancy and fantastic black levels.However, the whole split in the screen is so illogical it astounds. Images that fall between the two screens for instance are unnaturally stretched to create a split image with about 3mm of black bezel in between and it all seems rather hard to get used to.
Tablet P comes with two cameras. One on the back is a 5mp option, with 720p recording. It’s pretty good, though not up with some of Sony’s great Xperia phones, with their Exmor sensors., however it does the job. There is also a 640x480p screen inside and it’s the perfect accompaniment for video calls and the like. However, all the benefits come with our look into the performance, unfortunately most of the downsides do too.
Sony’s used a Tegra 2 dual core chip to power the device, which is a quite admirable chip, and perfectly suitable still in the days of quad core, no matter what they say. It comes with 1GB of RAM, all running on Android 3.2 and also 3G connectivity – all pretty standard.However, this is where the line between genius and madness is hairline like thin.
For instance the device splits the music player brilliantly, using the bottom to show relevant albums and the top as the music player, which is quite nice. However, Sony’s movie software is a mess – dedicating one screen for the footage and a whole screen for the controls, which seems like overkill and makes for a tiny screen.
This is also the case of Google Play, which is split and has only a tiny screen for the store itself, which is a right waste.
Gaming is also good and bad. The device splits and hinges like the Nintendo 3DS great, however the controls are on screen and a little poor to use and strangely the shoulder buttons are on the bottom of the upper screen, which makes them unusable.
Gamer can play PS1 games – great, but if they’ve bought them for the PS Vita, or PS phone ,will have to purchase them again to play them on the Tablet P – which will also disappoints, especially if you’re a loyal Sony fan. Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited are nice features and show Sony’s media clout – something HTC have tried to do too, though the store would be better if it was larger.However, the whole experience is very smooth and well powered and is a joy to use, even iflayout is a little dubious in some areas. Android also works quite well and suffers only a few changes here and there and.
Connectivity is quite good and Sony’s given the Tablet P a USB, Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth and DLNA, allowing you to stream to an enabled set, which is also great.Battery life, however is not so glorious and the 3800mAH battery will last about 5 hours, about half that of that Apple tablet, whatever it’s called. You also can only charge via an adaptor and not USB which is also a little limiting – on the bright side it can be swapped.
Overall, the Sony is something of a strange beast, just as you’d have imagined looking at it, really. It’s clam design is innovative and it’s a quality built tablet. Its use of its two screens is also different, however it has a prototype feel and its software is often badly thought out as it doesn’t utilise all apps to a great degree. The dead bezel area between the screens is also off putting, as is the lacklustre battery.
The Tablet P may have been a fantastic tablet if we could freeze time and Sony could come out with it in a second generation. Unfortunately, it’s an experiment that proves Apple’s tabletaesthetic seems to be the only horse in town.