The open secret is finally official. After spending months on the internet as the Sony PlayStation phone, and given an extensive preview that has been neither confirmed nor denied by Sony Ericsson themselves, the cat is finally out of the bag when an interesting, though somewhat disturbing ad, revealed the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play for the very first time.
So what is the Xperia Play? It is, first and foremost, a smartphone that is powered by Google's latest Android 2.3 platform. But what sets it apart from its Xperia siblings is its function as a gaming device. To understand the unique proposition of the Xperial Play, we need to examine it from two aspects - the hardware and software
As far as we've heard over the last few months, the Xperia Play was rumored to be powered by a 1GHz CPU. This has been confirmed from the earlier announcement, pointing towards a Qualcomm Scorpion ARMv7 1GHz processor as the brains behind its operation. Adopting a slider form factor, a quick slide of its 4-inch screen will reveal the main highlight of the Xperia Play - it's gaming controls.
Our hands-on experience with the Xperia Play brings with it two distinct reactions. For one, the PlayStation certified Xperia Play is obvious for its gaming buttons, which adopts the usual triangle, square, circle and X buttons on its right and a four-way directional pad on the left. While these buttons are pretty responsive to our touch, it did feel a bit too flat for our liking.
Two touch-sensitive panels acting a analog controls are located in between the abovementioned buttons, with a start and Select button just below the distinct PlayStation buttons. The former is subjective to games that have been designed and had its keys mapped to the analog controls, while the latter is a default control to select and choose your options within the game. The analog controls can be pretty iffy, as we have experienced on Asphalt when we had steering difficulties and wrecked the car way too often for our liking. Fortunately, the directional pad managed to fill that role just as well. Lastly, the L and R shoulder buttons are right below the slid-up screen. Contrary to what we believe, the screen wasn't a hindrance in accessing the said buttons.
What is a PlayStation, without the gaming content? And in this case, there needn't be any worries on the amount of content. According to Sony Ericsson, the xperia Play will be launched with at least 50 game titles from 20 publishers. Publishers, such as Electronic Arts and Gameloft, are just some of the big boys that Sony Ericsson is working with to build a sizeable content list for the Xperia Play.
Given that it is PlayStation certified, you can expect PlayStation One games on the Xperia Play, the first of which is Crash Bandicoot that was demonstrated at the Sony Ericsson press conference. However, the PlayStation Suite initiative launched by Sony will be expected only later this year. And with it, a whole series of PlayStation One games will be distributed to the Xperia Play via the PlayStation Network Store. Likewise, a Sony Ericsson spokesperson did mention that while integration with the PlayStation Network is currently unavailable, the company is still keeping its options open on that avenue.
To give the Xperia Play an edge over other platforms such as Windows Phone 7 and iOS, exclusive content will be made available on the device. One of these include Dungeon Defender Wave 2, which will be an exclusive title for the Xperia Play. Meanwhile, existing games on the Android Market will have the option of re-adapting to the Xperia Play's key layout. As shared by Sony Ericsson, an SDK is made available to developers to add key mapping and support to their games, with no additional licencing fees or charges attached to it.
And we save the best news for the last. For those who have been waiting eagerly for the Xperia Play, it is currently slated to be released from March 2011 in Singapore. Realistically speaking, we are looking at the end of March or slightly later as the likely release date.
Key highlights of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play