We recently got a chance to have a good hard look at the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY, kindly loaned to us from Rogers Wireless in Canada. The Xperia PLAY really is a great looking device, runs the latest Android software (2.3 Gingerbread) and includes Playstation Pocket for gaming titles to get your thumbs moving. Here’s our full review.
Design and Feel
The Xperia PLAY as mentioned, looks awesome. The model we demoed was white, where you can also get a black model if desired. Given the fact that this is not just any smartphone, but also a handheld gaming device, makes you understand why it’s a little heavier and bulkier than other devices, especially the PLAY’s brother, the slimmer Xperia Arc. It weighs in at 6.17 ounces (175 grams), where the average smartphone weighs about 4 ounces. My only real problem with the size of this device, is that the slider gamepad feels really small in my hands, almost too small to play any game comfortably. Other than that, the device is sexy and shiny.
Same as the Xperia Arc again, and you’ll find I will continue to reference it as they are essentially the same minus the larger camera and lack of Playstation functionality on the Arc, it runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, with the Sony UI overtop. The UI is sluggish, and jumpy, making it seem like something is actually wrong with the software install. There’s nothing wrong though, it’s just a bunch of Sony stuff put on top of Gingerbread, which don’t play that nicely together I found.
They definitely paid attention to how the Playstation experience was on this device though, as the game portal opens as soon as you slide out the gamepad, perfect. Some title however I found to take extremely long to download. During testing I downloaded Rainbox Six, which took over 30 minutes to download a 400MB file over 802.11 n Wi-Fi connection.
What can we say about the hardware here, it`s in a class by itself really. Since its release in Feb 2011, not many other smartphones with a single-core processor are worthy of putting against the Xperia PLAY, strictly for its gaming abilities. It rocks a 1GHz single-core Scorpion ARMv7 processor, with 512 MB RAM, 5 .1megapixel camera on the backside with LED flash, VGA front facing camera (which is something else the Arc lacks), and a 1500mAh attery capable of 6.4 hrs talktime over 3G and 425 standby hours. It`s also got an Adreno GPU 3D graphics accelerator for gaming display. 400MB internal storage and upgradable to 32GB external MicroSD supported as well.
The camera is very nice at 5.1 megapixels, and shoots great pics. The Android 2.3 OS combined with a few added extras to the camera app makes it very easy to operate and shoot steady pictures as well as full 720p HD video which you can see below. The sensors detect lighting fast too, so it cuts down on you losing that `Kodak`moment.
I have to say that I wasn`t overly impressed with the gameplay on the Xperia PLAY, now this may also be because I`m not a huge gamer. That said, I’ve had my share of Sony Playstation products over the years, so I have high expectations to begin with. Having once had a PSP 2000 model, the Xperia PLAY doesn’t compare to the graphics on a PSP, or the size and ease of holding the gamepad on a PSP. The PLAY is just too small and that makes it really awkward to hold and game. It’s a solid effort to combine a smartphone and a gaming device, but I’d be better off having them separate, or just gaming from the Android Market or OpenFeint online. The time it took to download some titles , even over Wi-Fi was something I found to be distasteful fast. In today’s world of ‘on-demand’ gaming and apps, having to wait 30 minutes to play a game after it downloads and installs is too much for the traveler on the go. I would prefer to have the Xperia Arc and a PSP than have the Xperia PLAY.
It’s a great smartphone, and looks awesome. The camera app is seemless, and the Playstation software is great. When compared to the Xperia Arc though, I’d rather go for a device that has the same specs (minus the front facing camera) and much less weight and bulkiness than go with the Xperia PLAY. I think this device won’t last through the trials of the smartphone market and its huge competition. It’s a first, but it might be the last from Sony. Leave the gaming to the PSP or NGP.
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For more information about the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY, click here.