I’m getting pretty tired of the standard slate form factor that’s used by so many Android tablets today. So I was eager to get some hands on time with Sony’s Tablet P, one of the more unique Android tablet designs that I‘ve seen thus far.
The Tablet P features a clam shell design with two 5.5-inch touch screens. When closed, the device measures 3.11-inches wide, 7.08-inches long and 1.02-inches thick. When opened, the two screens extend to a width of 6.22-inches, with a thickness of 0.53-inches. The Tablet P felt light – it weighs just 0.82 pounds – although the device is too bulky for most pockets. I liked the device’s curved top and bottom surfaces, which are easy and comfortable to hold, although the Tablet P did feel a bit hollow. The exterior of the Tablet P has a disappointing cheap plastic feel and a silver finish that appears to be easily scratched (to be fair though, this was a demo unit for the public).
Once opened, the Tablet P’s dual-screens look sharp. Each screen has a 1024×480 resolution, providing more than enough screen real-estate for Android 3.2 Honeycomb. The Tablet P was very responsive thanks to its dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2 processor and 1GB of RAM. Apps ran smoothly on the device, and I was impressed at how graphics-intensive apps like pinball ran across the Tablet P’s two screens.
It took a few minutes to get used to the bezel that separates the Tablet P’s two screens. Many apps, including Android Honeycomb itself, simply use the two screens as a single display. For these apps, my eyes gradually grew accustomed to ignoring the bezel. Other apps use the two screens individually. Apps that require typing, for example, convert the lower screen into a spacious touch keypad. The hinged design of the Tablet P made the device much more comfortable to type on than a flat slate. PlayStation games are also available on the Tablet P, and these games use the lower screen as a control pad. Again, the hinged design of the screens worked well for gaming, although the lack of physical buttons was a big downside, particularly when compared to the Xperia Play.
The Tablet P didn’t perform as well for viewing photos or video, however. By default, video is displayed on a single screen, which was too small for my liking. When viewing video, the lower screen is used for controls, which seems like a waste. Photos used a similar screen layout, although some photos use the lower screen to display geotag data on a map.
Overall the value of the Tablet P will depend on how you use the device. The Tablet P works well for typing, reading or viewing web pages. Gaming is also a mostly positive experience on the device. However, the bezel between the Tablet P’s two screens will be a deal-breaker for those of you that will use the device mostly for viewing media – a tablet with a single 10-inch screen is much better suited for media viewing applications.