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Sony Tablet P review: First Look

The quirky and distinctive design of the Sony Tablet P sets it apart from all the other tablets out there. Seth Barton cracks it open to see what all the fuss is about in our first look.

It's not ideal for watching videos, obviously, as you're limited to one small screen for playback. It's also a pain for many apps, particularly games, where you need to switch between the two touch screens in mid-play (there's a reason the 3DS and DS only has one touch screen out of two). However, typing on one screen while looking at the other felt like using a mini laptop, and turning the device sideways lets you read books with opposing pages - a gimmick maybe, but it works well.

Build quality felt superb. Many devices with fascias feel a bit cheap and creaky, but the Tablet P exhibited none of this, and the matt finish has real class. The hinges felt very well constructed and possibly even a little too stiff, though the lid stayed exactly where you put it, so it is probably a sensible design decision.

The Tablet P's hinge feels reassuringly sturdy.

Sony has packed so much into this small device, that it feels quite weighty for its size. It's a just an illusion though, as it actually weighs just 372g, less than two thirds of the weight of most 10.1in tablets and just 37g more than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 - a weight difference that would be roughly reversed once you'd added any kind of case to protect the Samsung tablet.

The 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 chipset is no surprise, but the 4GB of internal storage seems a bit tight - a 2GB microSD card is supplied for the external card slot too. There's only one model going on sale in November, and that comes with Wi-Fi and 3G built-in, as befits its highly portable nature. With official pricing estimated to be 479, it's not especially cheap but it does feel worth it with so much effort going into the design.

The Tablet P is undeniably chunky.

So what are our first impressions?

Verdict

With the Tablet P Sony is stating that it's big enough and bold enough not to follow Apple's lead, and for this we applaud it. However, it's certainly a try before you buy device, especially if video is more important to you than portability and convenience.

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