Sony came to the tablet party late. Fashionably so, as it turned out, and in two distinct guises, the Sony Tablet S and this device - Sony Tablet P (previewed here). This Honeycomb 3.2 Android tablet is the game-focused model. See also: New iPad review.
The Sony Reader Store has yet to launch, but there's plenty of other digital content to get your teeth into with the Sony Tablet P. There's the Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited streaming and download services, plus the PlayStation Network gaming, around which this tablet's design is based. You must go through multiple updates and sign-in requirements to make use of all these services, but the breadth of content is impressive.
The Sony Tablet P's pair of 1024 x 480-pixel screens on which you play don't quite match, but offer plenty of depth. Sony ought to round off the edges of the tablet, though: grasping the lower portion to use the virtual gamepad isn't comfortable. In any case, the onscreen gaming keypad is no substitute for real buttons with which to exercise your digits. The split-screen clamshell design spoils photo viewing and web browsing too. See all: Android tablet reviews.
Build quality is very good. The stiffly hinged clamshell Sony Tablet P is not light, at 370g, but it's sturdy and we like the way the screen protectively folds in on itself. The other important feature is 3G – not something found on many Android tablets.
Charging is via a stubby circular connector similar to that for a laptop. A microSD card slot adds to the Sony Tablet P's puny 4GB of installed flash storage, plus there's a 5Mp camera, a webcam, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1.
You'll want to use the Sony Tablet P on home turf a lot of the time, though. The battery won't last the seven hours Sony posits if you engage in the entertainment options this tablet can handle. And note that charge-time is listed as 7.5 hours – longer than its actual runtime.
Email composition and management is handled superbly. A grid at the bottom of the inbox offers options to Compose, Discard or Search messages, add or view other accounts and manage your settings – a step up from other Honeycomb devices. We also love the way you can scroll up and down the entire contents of your inbox using the Sony Tablet P.
Screen accuracy on the Sony Tablet P is excellent: the responsive screen and 1GHz nVidia Tegra 2 processor are a solid combination. We didn't encounter a single lockup or operating glitch, just a few lags when playing free games downloaded via the PlayStation Network portal.
The Android Market displays only in the upper screen of the Sony Tablet P and we had no luck getting to view samples of Google Books suggested in the scrolling screen at the top of the Android Market list. See also: Group test: what's the best tablet?