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Sony Xperia Touch review: An innovative Android box with a projector for a screen

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,400
inc VAT

The Sony Xperia Touch is novel, innovative, and a lot of fun. But it's slightly premature...

Pros 
Portable
Scalable display
Cons 
Poor motion detection
Capped brightness at 80in
Low maximum resolution
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The Sony Xperia Touch is like no Android device you’ve ever seen. Rather than sporting a screen of its own, this boxy kittle gadget projects the Nougat interface downward onto the surface of your desk. By monitoring your finger movements, it effectively turns your table-top into a virtual 10-point multitouch display. Alternatively, place it at the foot of a wall and the interface can be scaled up to a massive 80in.

It’s an intriguing idea, and the device itself is pretty versatile, offering a full range of Android features. It supports both 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2, and provides a micro-HDMI output, built-in stereo speakers and even a 13-megapixel camera. Apps can be installed from Google Play, and if you fill the 32GB of onboard storage, you can add more via a micro-SD card slot.

It’s quite mobile too: we’d hesitate to call the Xperia Touch pocket-sized, but with a 69 x 143mm footprint it’s easily compact enough to carry around, and at 932g it’s lighter than most laptops. You can take it to work for an impromptu presentation, or set it up as a kitchen assistant, without having to worry about getting spillages and mucky fingers on the “touchscreen”.

Unfortunately, the idea is a lot better than the execution. Android simply isn’t designed for an outsized, projected interface. Try to type an email, for example, and you’ll be faced with a gigantic keyboard, with comically oversized keys that pointlessly take up half of the entire display. The motion-detection hardware is also nowhere near as reliable or responsive as a real touchscreen, especially in wall-projection mode. That makes the Xperia Touch irksome for casual use, and downright maddening for gaming.

Another issue is the relatively weedy lamp. If you want to enjoy the screen in its full 80in glory, brightness falls to just 100cd/m2. The native 1,366 x 768 resolution looks pretty ropey at that size too. Finally, we must also mention battery life: the Xperia Touch may be portable, but its internal battery will only give you around an hour of use before it needs plugging in.

We’re certainly not opposed to projectors in principle; we’re very fond of units like the BenQ W2000 or the Optoma GT1080Darbee, which can turn a plain wall into a home cinema for under a grand. But the marriage of projection with touch is something very new, and while Sony deserves credit for fresh thinking, the Xperia Touch feels more like a proof of concept than a proper consumer product.

In fact, it highlights just how far we are from being ready for interactive table- and wall-projection systems. Do you have a suitable expanse of white surface? Is it comfortable to tap and swipe on? Is it resistant to fingerprints? Does it offer a suitable mounting-point for a projector? The more you think about it, the more problems become apparent.

Still, it has been argued that projection is the display technology of tomorrow. And who knows, in years to come we might look back at the Sony Xperia Touch as a device ahead of its time. On its own terms, though, it feels impractical and half-baked; for £1,400 it’s an absurdly optimistic proposition.

Hardware
Processor
1.8GHz Six-core Snapdragon 650
RAM3GB
Screen size23in / 80in
Screen resolution1,366 x 768
Screen typeSXRD projector
Front camera13 megapixels
Rear cameraN/A
FlashN/A
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage (free)32GB
Memory card slot (supplied)MicroSD
Wi-FiN/A
Bluetooth4.2
NFCYes
Wireless dataN/A
Dimensions
69 x 143 x 134mm
Weight932g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 7.0
Battery size1,200mAh
Buying information
Warranty1 year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£1,400

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