Sony Tablet P review

The novel Sony Tablet P is a good idea – but too compromised Tested at £500

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Sony has dared to be different, but this time the gamble hasn’t paid off


  • +

    Intriguing design

  • +

    reasonable picture and sound

  • +

    fine as an eBook reader or mini-notebook


  • -

    Compromised video

  • -

    odd with some Android services

  • -

    high price

  • -

    meagre memory

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Sony’s Tablet P dares to sail against the iPad-shaped tide of tablet design.

It sports twin 1024 x 480-resolution 5.5in (13.9cm) screens arranged in a folding, clamshell configuration. This allows for a smaller, lighter device than a conventional tablet.

There are considerable advantages to this – and some equally significant drawbacks. Strengths first: the twin-screen set-up seems natural when you’re typing on the virtual keyboard.

That dual-screen also works a treat with eBooks. Holding the Tablet P like a paperback seems natural, and its dual screens display each page cleanly.

There’s nothing wrong with the operating speed or web browser, either: it has an NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor running at 1GHz plus Android Honeycomb.

Frustrating restrictions with video
So far so good; but now to those drawbacks. Video is restricted to the top screen, with the lower screen devoted to touch-panel controls.

Picture quality is perfectly acceptable, but it’s frustrating that the viewable screen is scarcely bigger than that of a Samsung Galaxy Note.

The same problem crops up with games – the Tablet P comes preloaded with the classic PlayStation title Crash Bandicoot, but only a portion of the screen displays the game itself.

Most frustrating of all is its performance as a standard Android tablet. The Android Marketplace also appears only on the top screen – so key features can be masked and hard to get to.

Android apps are an issue
Standard Android apps are an issue too: while the Sony-optimised offerings make a reasonable fist of spreading information over both screens, many standard Android apps look plain weird, with key information obscured by the black bars that separate the two displays.

After all these drawbacks, the Tablet P’s respectable (if slightly brash) sound seems less important, as does its support for a decent range of different file formats.

Add in the fact it costs £100 more than a basic iPad and yet has only 4GB of memory as standard, and the Tablet P’s ship is sunk.

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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