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Sony Tablet P review

Seth Barton
3 Dec 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
499
inc VAT

A compact and hard-wearing tablet for day-to-day tasks on the go, but there are drawbacks to its dual-screen design

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Specifications

2x 1,024x480 display, 372g, 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2, 1.00GB RAM, 4GB disk, Android 3.2

There's no doubt that the Tablet P is the most unusual looking device to fit into the tablet category. In terms of its hardware it's remarkably similar to other, more conventional, models on the market. However, the daring clamshell design and twin 5.5in displays within make it substantially different to carry and use on an everyday basis.

Sony Tablet P

And it's certainly a mobile life that the Tablet P is designed for, particularly when compared to coffee table friendly stable mate the Sony Tablet S - with its magazine like shape and built-in IR remote control. It's far more convenient to carry around every day than even a typical 7in tablet - as those two 5.5in screens measure roughly 7in across when measured together corner-to-corner.

When folded shut you can slide the Tablet P into a coat pocket or the smallest of bags. The design protects the screens from damage, which means there's no need for a bulky case to go around it. In practical use then, the Tablet P is a far smaller and lighter device than its immediate competitors - such as the upcoming Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition - despite only being slightly smaller on paper.

Sony Tablet P

Without a case you might be worried about scratching the exterior, but there's no need as the vast majority is made of up two replaceable fascias. At present, only the original silver ones are available, but we're hoping Sony will produce some more interesting colours. The upper fascia has a hole for 5-megapixel camera (there's a 2-megapixel one inside for video chat and self portraits), but as usual we weren't impressed with the quality, with detail lacking. Once again we can't fathom why expensive tablets can't have the same image quality as mid-range smartphones.

Beneath the upper fascia is a slot for a SIM card, so you can get a 3G data connection on the go. A second data contract, presuming you already have a smartphone, used to be a bit of a luxury. However, for basic use you can now get a £5 per month pay-as-you-go SIM from Vodafone with a 250MB allowance - plenty for basic web surfing and email.

Sony Tablet P

The lower fascia hides the micro SDHC slot, which you'll probably want to make use of as the Tablet P only has a measly 4GB of built-in storage - less than the vast majority of modern smartphones and an insult given the price of this device. More positively, you can gain access to the replaceable 3.7V 3,080mAh battery here too (SGP-BP01), buy an extra one for £59 and you can double your battery life for long days on the go. In our video playback test the battery lasted for a respectable six hours and 22 minutes, enough for pretty heavy on-off use throughout the day.

Sony Tablet P

There's a power button on the right-hand side, alongside the USB port and volume rocker, but you'll rarely have to use it as the Tablet P fires into life as soon as you open it.

OPEN SESAME

Flip the Tablet P open and you're confronted with those two displays, divided by an 8mm black bar. The displays themselves are impressive for LCD screens at least. They're fairly bright and each has a 1,024x480 resolution, which gives an almost-square 1,024x960 across the two. That's around the same as the upcoming generation of 7in tablets with their 1,280x800 displays. However, the big question here is how that tiny gap impacts upon your use of the tablet, and the answer varies considerably depending on what you want to do.

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