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Sony Ericsson Experia Play..Breakthrough smartphone..or near miss? UPDATE
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Sony Ericsson Experia Play..Breakthrough smartphone..or near miss? UPDATE

It’s a smartphone…it’s a gaming device…it’s not Superman. Out of the box the Sony Ericsson Experia Play is kind of clunky looking and heavy..clad in shiny black plastic and chrome it has a sixties American car look to it..it is only missing the fins

UPDATE July 4, 2011: Android 2.3.3 update for Xperia™ arc and Xperia™ PLAY includes Facebook® Inside. Adds new features..Facebook is immediately accessible from the most used areas of the phone such as the picture gallery, music player, phonebook and calendar. You can share and comment more easily than ever before.

Upgrade is available at www.sonyericsson.com/updateservice. Remember to back up your data before updating.

The first challenge is to turn the phone on..the power button at the top right is small and recessed so it is a bit tricky to press..I used a fingernail..and it takes forever to boot up. But, once it fires up it is worth the wait..the screen is bright and looks a lot sharper than its 854×480 resolution would indicate and the viewing angle is great. The touch screen is terrific..just the right sensitivity and scrolling is smooth as silk.

Under the hood is a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon chip, which comes with an Adreno 205 GPU..a solid combination. It has a bigger than standard 1500mAh battery yet I found the battery life to be less than satisfactory..barely a full day with light to moderate use..way less than that with some game playing thrown in. The screen is always running at full brightness which probably explains the less that stellar battery life.

Running Android 2.3.2 Gingerbread phone performance is good..voice quality is good on both ends and performance with a variety of apps was snappy. GPS with Google maps was quick to lock on and performance was smooth and accurate. The camera took decent pictures in good light but surprisingly only average 480p video.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQqzeMW2qAk

The potential buyer for this the Experia Play isn’t really interested in all that though..it’s all about the gaming and once you slide out the game controller you see what this smartphone is all about. The controller is a pretty standard game controller with all the necessary buttons plus two touchpads as well as two triggers at the top of the controller.

My demonstrator phone came with a boatload of games Crash Bandicoot, Star Batallion and Madden NFL 11 to name a few. Full disclosure..I am not much of a gamer and I found the games a bit challenging on the small screen but fun to play. The true stereo from the dual speakers was quite amazing for their size. Some games were confusing in that they required you to tap the screen for some things..such as Air Attack HD which required a double tap on the screen to drop bombs but used the controller for everything else.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guinydY5pwQ

Available in White or Black the Sony Ericsson Experia play is $99.99 on a select 3 year plan and $549.99 with no plan. Overall the Experia Play is an interesting first effort at producing a pure gaming smartphone..it is fun but sometimes frustrating to use and feels like it could have used a bit more time in the oven. If you must have a game controller on your phone then this is it..but I would wait for the next version.

I put the Experia Play is the same category as the Motorola ATRIX..an exciting move in an interesting direction..one could even use the word breakthrough..and both companies deserve credit for trying to advance the platform. I look forward to exciting innovations in the next model. What do you think?

 

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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