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Sony Tablet P review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £499
inc VAT

A compact and hard-wearing tablet for day-to-day tasks on the go, but there are drawbacks to its dual-screen design


2x 1,024×480 display, 372g, 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2, 1.00GB RAM, 4GB disk, Android 3.2

A small icon in the taskbar lets you select if you want to just use the top screen, or stretch the app across both as if they were a single display. The Tablet P remembers your preference for each app, so you don’t have to set the mode every time. However, some apps aren’t suitable for use acroos both displays, while Sony has modified others to try to make the most of the design – with mixed results.

Sony Tablet P

The Tablet P is great for typing on, when it’s on a desk or table at least. The email client cleverly uses the two screens, with a preview window on the upper screen and a folder and email list on the lower. The latter are replaced with a keyboard when you want to compose a message, and the positioning and size of keys and keyboard makes the Tablet P feel like a little laptop. Unfortunately, this only works with Sony’s keyboard and this was pretty poor, with little auto-spelling correction on offer. Installing third-party ones meant they didn’t fill the lower half of the screen, or interfered with the two screen layout in other unforeseeable ways. We found the Tablet P too large to type on with two thumbs while holding it, so you’re back to one-fingered stabbing in this scenario.

Sony Tablet P
Here’s the email app, which is let down a little by the keyboard segment – click to enlarge

You’ll have no problems with web browsing, whatever your choice of browser. It takes a little while to get your head around the fact that the black bar isn’t actually obscuring part of the page, but after that we found reading down the screen no problem. Having this kind of resolution for web browsing in a pocketable device is really quite a coup for Sony.

Sony’s own calendar app works well, with a great monthly view that gives you basic details of what you’re up to everyday – useful for those who don’t have hour-by-hour appointments. There’s no multi-touch here, like on our preferred Touch Calendar app, though. Speaking of multi-touch, it works across both screens, so you can use one finger on each to pinch-and-zoom.

Sony Tablet P
The calendar works well across both screens, without any fancy tricks, as does web browsing – click to enlarge

One neat looking feature of the Tablet P is being able to hold it sidewise like an open book and read down the two facing ‘pages’. In practice, though, we found the two columns of text to be too narrow to really provide a book-like feel. Reading more-complex prose in such a way proved troublesome as sentence structures were easily lost. Annoyingly, there’s no way to revert to a more straightforward view. We found that the Kindle app a better bet, with the Tablet P the usual way up, and text simply running across both screens from top to bottom.

Maps are another good example of why split-screen doesn’t work for everything. When browsing Google Maps you naturally centre what you want in the middle of the screen and then zoom in and out. However, here the middle is next-to-useless as the break in the screens distorts the distances between locations. We just found ourselves using the top screen and ignoring the lower half. It’s a pity that Sony hasn’t rejigged things here to keep toolbars and search information on the lower display. As for the Android Market it will only run in the top screen, a major oversight.

Finally, though the vast majority of games will run across both displays, you can’t play them that way as the join plays havoc with rapid, flawless touch-screen inputs. Video content, also has to be enjoyed on just a single screen. We’ve seen the hardware responsible – a dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2 chipset with 1Gb of RAM – many, many times before. It’s capable of running everything smoothly, with JavaScript performance a rather average 2,107ms in the Sunspider test.


The Tablet P is expensive at £499, especially given the 4GB of storage. We’d be prepared to bet that’s a chunk more cash than the upcoming Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition and probably no less than the Super AMOLED-equipped Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. The hardware is very nice, though, and its design and 3G capability make it a potentially superior tool to both of those for touting about – to date no 3G version of the Xoom 2 has even been announced.

The Tablet P’s twin displays do cause issues, though. Most Android users have a huge choice of apps to replace those tools from the manufacturer which they don’t care for. This obviously isn’t always the case if you want apps that optimise the use of both screens. Also, we wouldn’t expect an update to Android 4.0 any time soon given the additional customisation that has gone into the device.

The Sony Tablet P isn’t for everyone then, but if you want a tough, compact tablet for use on the go, and none of the drawbacks we’ve listed deter you, then you’ll be very happy with it indeed.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Processor Nvidia Tegra 2
Processor clock speed 1GHz
Memory 1.00GB
Memory slots 0
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 1GB
Size 158x180x14mm
Weight 372g
Sound N/A
Pointing device touchscreen


Native resolution 2x 1,024×480
Graphics Processor Nvidia Tegra 2
Graphics/video ports none
Graphics Memory 0MB


Total storage capacity 4GB
Optical drive type none

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 1
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports none
Wireless networking support 802.11n
PC Card slots N/A
Supported memory cards micro SDHC
Other ports SIM


Carrying case No
Operating system Android 3.2
Operating system restore option none
Software included none
Optional extras N/A

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £499