Overview, Design and Features
Are Two Screens Better than One?
Sony's second tablet offering, the Tablet P is no different from its earlier counterpart, the Tablet S - both are designed to stand out from the crowd. While the Tablet S catches attention with its unique folding design and 9.4-inch display, the Tablet P adopts a clamshell factor which sees two 5.5-inch screens squeezed into a single device. While being different does have its benefits in a market where Android tablets increasingly look similar to one another, is Sony pushing it too far with the Tablet P? Read on to find out.
Key highlights of the Sony Tablet P (3G)
The clamshell form factor is a first for a tablet and Sony is certainly in the same league with ASUS when it comes to churning out unconventional designs. In fact, it's understandable if someone mistook the Tablet P for other similar looking gadget such as the Nintendo 3DS.
It's a pity that the design of the Tablet P looks great but upon handling it, you realize that the material used for its chassis is mainly plastic. Perhaps we were spoilt by the excellent build quality of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime which sets the benchmark for Android tablets. We had expected Sony to use more premium materials for the Tablet P.
Handling-wise, the closed clamshell form factor and the tapered surface make the Tablet P easy to handle and carry around. The problem only arises when you pry open the Tablet P and the pointed corners at the bottom make it very uncomfortable to hold after a few minutes of use. The handling could have been better if the corners are rounded.
For now, you have to contend with Android 3.2.1 Honeycomb on the Sony Tablet P as the Android 4.0 update will only arrive sometime in Spring (between end March and June 2012). We have seen how Android 4.0 performed on the ASUS Transformer Pad Prime tablet and we are certainly looking forward to seeing it in action on the Tablet P.
While Sony has left the bulk of the Android user interface (UI) untouched on the Tablet S, the company made some major UI tweaks to fit the unique form factor of dual screens. Amongst the familiar Sony tweaks are the four shortcut icons on the top left corner of the screen, Favorites tab on the top right hand corner and the aesthetically appealing App list.
Despite Sony's optimization of some core apps to work properly on its dual-screen Tablet P, there are still hundreds if not thousands of apps which have yet to be tweaked for use on the device. That will remain one of the key challenges Sony will face. Developers may not want to create or modify apps just to be used on the Tablet P, hence users may end up with only a handful of apps that work on their devices.
At the moment, you are able to find several dual-screen optimized apps such as Reader and tweethunt on SelectApp site, which complements the Google Play Store (formerly known as Android Market).