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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Xperia Play brief hands on

So I got a chance to try out the Sony Xperia Play phone last Thursday, the day it came out. I happened to be walking by a Sony Style store and remembered, "Hey, isn't the Xperia Play released in Canada today? (April 28)" so I went in and was looking over the dummy model on display when one of the sales guys asked if I wanted to play with an actual unit. Of course I would!

The phone is chubby, but not as bad as I thought... once I had it in my hands it seemed fairly compact.

There have been a bunch of reviews of the phone, most of the points have been covered. But a few things I noticed:

When the phone is slid out (extended) the hinge seems very secure. I tried to jiggle the top panel a little bit but other than the slide up/down there was NO looseness when it's fully extended.

HOWEVER.....

When the phone is in its compact phone form with the top panel covering the PS controls, the top panel *DOES* feel loose-- when I used the touchscreen and was scrolling and tapping through menus, I could feel the top panel pressing down every time I tapped. And I wasn't tapping hard.

So that is a major annoyance to me.

Another big problem - the analogue pad sliders. I tried out Star Battalion which is a spaceship flying game specifically to test the analogue touch pads. They don't seem all that responsive.... I guess what I find baffling is that Sony Ericsson made a huge deal about the Xperia Play having physical buttons-- then they go and put touchpad controls for the analogue nubs?? It was a SERIOUS MISTAKE to not use physical analogue nubs like the PSP/PSPgo.

The phone is a major fingerprint magnet, there was already a bunch of greasy prints all over it by the time I tried it out (ewww). And the plastic construction isn't the best-- though not the worst either.

The shoulder buttons-- called flippers-- have been talked about in other reviews, about how unresponsive they are. I did have some problems with them, they are very thin & recessed buttons. But I noticed with Star Battalion that I had to hold both flippers down for a second for it to register a barrel-roll command, and if I simply pressed both it wouldn't always register-- which may be what reviewers were complaining about.

The screen seemed nice like the PSP screen fidelity, but I suspect in natural light (also like the PSP) it will wash right out. Brightness is another huge issue.

There are a few games preloaded, then another few that look like they're on the phone but you have to either sign into a Google account or Rogers or something to actually play them. I think you need to download/activate them before they're playable.

The D-pad & face buttons seem solid & feel like PlayStation "quality". There wasn't much content loaded so I didn't get to try out the movie playback too much, I imagine that stuff is fairly standard.

The Android experience is pretty much there, so if you're familiar with the OS, you'll know what to expect.

One thing no big-name site will talk about with the Xperia Play is the possibility of using emulators on it. But I'd say that's the key reason to get this phone. I've groused so much about the annoyance of playing GBA games on a touchscreen so I'd love to be able to play my Game Boy Advance games using these PS buttons. Not to mention PS1 emulator games....

I wouldn't count on lots of optimized games coming specifically for this phone. If you like what's already on it (Bruce Lee game, Asphalt pretty cool) then great. But I still contend that there will be little/no PSP game ports for it.

Right now the phone is $100.00 with a 3 year contract-- that contract is pretty much $50.00-$60.00 a month. So you're looking at around $2000.00 + $100.00 for the phone over 3 years. Or it can be purchased outright for $550.00.

With its issues and the pricetag, I can't see it being worth it just to have a really great GBA emulator. If Sony Ericsson comes out with an updated version with improvements, that'd be worth looking forward to.



later
don

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