Sony Tablet P (3G) - Clamshell Tablet

Launch SRP: S$848

Performance and Conclusion

Performance

The Sony Tablet P runs on the same hardware components as the Tablet S - NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor and 1GB RAM. Theoretically, we should expect similar performance from both devices. As per usual, we compare the Tablet P with two other tablets, the Motorola Xoom 2 (3G) and Apple iPad 2 in the following benchmarks: - 

  • Quadrant evaluates the CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performance. This is an Android OS based test. 
  • Smartbench 2011 is a multi-core friendly benchmark application that includes both the Productivity and Games indices for a more complete gauge of the overall performance of Android tablets.
  • SunSpider Javascript benchmark measures the browsing performance of the tablet.

How the Tablets Stack up

Device Sony Tablet P (3G) Sony Tablet S Motorola Xoom 2 (3G) Apple iPad 2
CPU NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz TI OMAP4 dual-core 1.2GHz Apple A5 dual-core 1GHz
GPU  ULP GeForce  ULP GeForce PowerVR SGX540 PowerVR SGX 543MP2
RAM 1GB 1GB 1GB 512MB
OS Google Android 3.2 Google Android 3.2 Google Android 3.2 Apple iOS 4.3

As expected, the disparity in performance between the two Sony tablets is minimal or negligible. However, when taking into account the Motorola Xoom 2 (3G), the difference is quite big. As stated previously in the review of the Motorola tablet, the TI OMAP 4430 dual-core 1.2GHz processor was able to outperform NVIDIA Tegra 2 easily hence we were not surprised by the results of the benchmarks.

Statistics aside, the Sony Tablet P is not in anyway inferior to other Android Honeycomb tablets in terms of user interface navigation and daily usage. Screen transitions, opening of apps and web browsing were fairly fast although none could be compared to the smoother experience on the Android 4.0-touting ASUS Transformer Pad Prime.

Imaging 

The Sony Tablet P sports a 5-megapixel rear HD camera powered by Exmor for mobile and a 0.3-megapixel front camera for video capture. The "Exmor for mobile" branding promises to deliver better image quality especially under low light conditions. As the Sony Tablet S performed fine in our camera test, we are expecting similar results for the Tablet P. 

 

 

Battery Mileage

Our standard battery test includes the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100% 
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
     
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter. 

 

Test Tablets Compared

Specifications/Device Sony Tablet P (3G) Sony Tablet S Motorola Xoom 2 (3G) Apple iPad 2
Processor
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
Display Size
  • 2 x 5.5-inch
  • 9.4-inch
  • 10.1-inch
  • 9.7-inch
Display Type
  • TFT-LCD
  • LED-backlit IPS TFT-LCD
  • TFT-IPS
  • LED-backlit IPS TFT
Display Resolution
  • 1024 x 480 pixels
  • 1280 x 800 pixels 
  • 1280 x 800 pixels
  • 1024 x 768 pixels 
Dimensions
  • 180 x 158 x 14mm
  • 241.2 x 174.3 x 10.1-20.6mm
  • 256.9 x 173.6 x 8.8mm
  • 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8mm
Weight
  • 372g
  • 598g
  • 608g
  • 613g

Battery mileage seems to be the weakest aspect of the Sony Tablet P as it registered the lowest among the four tablets. Although the video was only playing on one screen with the other screen hosting the playback controls, the Tablet P only lasted about four hours. This is attributed to its smaller battery capacity of 3080mAh whereas the Sony Tablet S and Motorola Xoom 2 (3G) have battery capacities of 5000mAh and 7000mAh respectively. However, it managed to secure some honor by doing well in the Portability Index due to its lightweight form factor of 372g. 

Under normal usage conditions, the Sony Tablet P was able to last through a day with occasional web surfing, playing of games, email and social networking. As our battery test simulates fairly stressful usage conditions, we feel that you can expect a longer battery mileage out of the Tablet P. After all, actual battery mileage will vary under different usage conditions. 

Conclusion

 

Sony has done a great job in pushing out refreshing tablet concepts into a market flooded with similar looking devices. Besides the asymmetrical design of the Tablet S, Sony can now add the clamshell form factor of the Tablet P to its list of unconventional designs. The build quality and handling of the device feels great although it could have been better if more premium materials are used. The dual-screen concept is a new dimension in user interface interactivity although it takes time to get used to it. It is also good to see Sony taking the efforts to modify the stock Android user interface to make it more usable on the unique form factor of the Tablet P. 

Though it was announced in 2011, the Sony Tablet P took too long to hit the market. As such, it falls short of the competition in the aspects of hardware, software and performance. In its open form factor, the sharp edges may cause discomfort after holding the Tablet P for a while. As more brands move to equip their devices with quad-core processors, a dual-core processor may soon be outdated.

Granted that the operating system and apps are not yet optimized for use with multi-core processors, Sony can increase the appeal of the Tablet P by future proofing it with a better processor (higher clock speed or more cores). While the Android 4.0 is expected to arrive in the coming months, the key issue hindering the success of the Tablet P lies with apps development. If developers aren't coding their apps to fit the dual-screen form factor, the user experience will be affected drastically. 

The Sony Tablet P (3G) is available now at a recommended retail price of $848. The price point and form factor might be possible deal breakers. There are other tablets with similar price points which offer better overall performance. For example, consumers can fork out an additional $50 to get the best performing Android tablet, the ASUS Transformer Pad Prime at $899 (with keyboard docking station). Sony's own Tablet S is also a better deal at $798 as it offers similar performance in a more practical form factor. The price reduction of the iPad 2 (3G) 16GB to $698 may entice first time tablet buyers over to the Apple's camp too.

While a unique design helps Sony tablets stand out from the competition, does it help to garner sales for the company? As of now, we are inclined to believe that the Sony Tablet P will cater to a very niche market segment of consumers where design precedes functionality. Coupled with the possibility that there might be a lack of developers' interest in creating apps for this form factor, the Sony Tablet P may just be another product with looks but limited functionality.

7.0
Design
8
Features
8.5
User-Friendliness
7.5
Performance
6.5
Value
7
The Good
Unique clamshell design
Portable
The Bad
Expensive
Sharp corners
Average overall performance