Sony Tablet P review: Sony Tablet P

The Tablet P includes limited PlayStation Store support, with access to a scant few PS1 games. Games like Crash Bandicoot are well-implemented on the platform, placing most of the virtual control pad controls on the bottom screen with the actual game up top.


PlayStation games are implemented much better than Android software, for the most part.

Unfortunately, the Android YouTube app is currently incompatible with the Tablet P. Sony says it's working on an optimized version of the app and that it's "coming soon."

Hardware features
The Tablet P houses the usual Android tablet suspects, including Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 CPU and 1GB of RAM, but includes only a paltry 4GB of storage. Also, it has 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, a gyroscope, and GPS.

If you're thinking of using the Tablet P as a dedicated music player, you may want to invest in some high-quality headphones. The single speaker, located on the bottom section's left edge, is pumped through a quarter-inch-long slit and delivers sound as muffled and low as you'd expect, even at maximum volume.

Performance
The Tablet P's dual 5.5-inch capacitive touch screens sport impressively high luminance ratings while simultaneously delivering low black levels. The screens feature a high-gloss, high-contrast look with wide IPS-based viewing angles. Colors pop with a vibrancy that rivals some of the best tablet screens available. The glossy screen is quite reflective, however.

Tested spec Sony Tablet P Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Toshiba Thrive 7-inch
Maximum brightness 388 cd/m2 214 cd/m2 350 cd/m2
Default brightness 152 cd/m2 50 cd/m2 141 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.31 cd/m2 0.17 cd/m2 0.45 cd/m2
Default black level 0.13 cd/m2 0.04 cd/m2 0.18 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 1,169:1 1,250:1 783:1
Contrast ratio (max brightness) 1,251:1 1,258:1 778:1

Navigating the OS and launching apps is fast and the screen seemed responsive to my swipes; however, the dead space between the screens does get in the way at times.

Web and app download speeds matched most other Android tablets when within 5 feet of our test router; even up to 20 feet away, it retained much of its strength.

Thanks to its hardware scalability, I used Riptide GP as a game performance benchmark. Depending on the speed of the CPU, Riptide GP will deliver a noticeable increase or decrease in frame rate. The Tablet P offered performance typical of a Tegra 2-based tablet by delivering a consistent, playable frame rate that unfortunately can't match the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus' smooth near-60-frames-per-second Exynos 4210-induced fluidity.

As mentioned, the Tablet P includes a front-facing 0.3-megapixel camera and a 5-megapixel back camera. Images and video recorded with the front camera looked washed-out and lacked detail. The back camera, however, delivers detailed, high-contrast, and colorful photos that go a step beyond typical tablet fare.

Playback of 720p video from external sources ran smoothly and looked sharp on the Tablet P's top 1,024x480-pixel-resolution screen. Contrast was high and colors popped with a suitable vibrancy, without looking oversaturated or unnatural. Unfortunately, none of the 1080p files we attempted to play on the tablet would start, however.

Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video battery life (in hours)
Sony Tablet P 5.8

Conclusion
The Tablet P is available for $400 if you sign up for a two-year contract with AT&T, giving you access to its HSPA+ network; however, I don't recommend getting roped into a two-year contract with any tablet. Off-contract, the Tablet P is available for $550.

If you're looking for something a little different in an Android tablet, dual screens and a clamshell design do fit the bill. The removable battery is useful, and the 5-megapixel back camera takes some pretty detailed pictures. Also, the ability to fold a tablet in two and fit it into your pocket is truly convenient.

I found it difficult to think about a portable Sony device, which technically plays PlayStation games, without my thoughts drifting toward the PS Vita. Unfortunately for the P, the PlayStation Store's limited (not to mention old) games selection didn't exactly overwhelm me with excitement.

The Vita plays nearly PlayStation 3-quality games for $250 (plus memory cards, of course). The games are more expensive, but arguably provide better experiences as well. The Vita also supports Web browsing, 3G, apps (like Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix), a capacitive touch screen, and dual cameras (albeit both at VGA resolution).

It's baffling that Sony would release two completely different devices that feel as similar in purpose as these do at around the same time. The Vita is easily the better portable Sony device.

Still, I appreciate the Tablet P's novel approach to design, but while Sony shows up with optimized native apps for music, photos, and movies, most apps feel either crammed or weirdly segmented on the tablet. Also, there are simply better tablet options out there at its current asking price or lower.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Sony Tablet P SGPT211US/S - tablet - Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) - 4 GB - 5.5" - AT&T

Part Number: SGPT211US/S
Low Price: $259.95 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Wireless Connectivity IEEE 802.11n
    IEEE 802.11b
    Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
    IEEE 802.11g
  • Weight 13 oz
  • Type Android 3.2 (Honeycomb)
  • Service Provider AT&T
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