The Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY is the first phone to be "PlayStation certified", which means its designed for playing games. It can do much more, though, as it has a very capable web browser, email software, navigation app, and loads more. It runs the latest version of Google's Android OS, and has a 1GHz processor, a 5 megapixel camera with a front-facing camera, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless networking.
This model was recently launched by Verizon Wireless for $200 with a new two-year service contract.
BUILD & DESIGN
The Xperia PLAY is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the HP Veer that I reviewed recently. Unlike the Veer, which is so small you can almost lose it in your pocket, much less in a purse or larger gear bag, the Xperia PLAY is rather large. It's 4.7 x 2.4-inches. It's relatively thin at 0.6 inches though, of course, it's a bit thicker than some smartphones because of its slider design.
Even though it's something of a bruiser, at 6.7 ounces it doesn't feel too heavy to me; the Xperia PLAY is solid and very well built. The slider functions smoothly, and the corners are rounded appropriately for comfort. It looks very good too, mainly black with a few chrome accents on the buttons underneath the display and on the sides.
Strangely enough, it also doesn't seem too big and bulky in real life. It's curved in just the right places, so it seems smaller than it really is, especially in your pocket. The Xperia PLAY is smaller than the Samsung Droid Charge, for example, though it is a bit thicker due to the slider design.
The 4.0-inch, WVGA (480 x 854) Touchscreen is just gorgeous, with saturated colors and no jaggies or pixels to be seen. Photos and videos look great, but where it really shines is when you play the games that come pre-loaded on the phone. They look far better than I ever remember seeing them look on other mobile platforms, and the display really brings the characters to life.
Even though it appears a bit washed out in direct sunlight, the display is still readable and usable outside. Sometimes I had to angle the phone a bit to do so, but it worked.
There's no keyboard here, which may seem strange at first since this is a slider-style phone -- until you realize that the slider portion of the device is strictly for gaming controls. So you'll be using the on-screen keyboard, which worked just fine for this experienced touch-typist.
I especially liked the fact that there was no haptic feedback when I pressed the "keys" - -I hadn't realized how distracting I found that to be on other devices. If you're fine using a virtual keyboard you won't have any trouble at all using the one on the Xperia PLAY.
Other Buttons & Controls
There's a lot to talk about here, since the Xperia PLAY isn't your typical smartphone. At first glance, it's pretty normal -- the power button is on the top edge, and the Back, Home, Menu, and Search buttons are on the front of the device, under the display. These are real buttons, not areas on the touchpanel.
Continuing the tour of the device, the charge/sync port is on the left side. The right side has the volume buttons, as well as two extra trigger buttons.
Underneath the display, on the slider portion, you'll find what you're probably most interested in: several more buttons arranged in the classic PlayStation controller format: directional buttons on the left, and the square/triangle/circle/square on the right. There are also two analog pads in the middle of the controller portion, but my attempts to use them weren't too successful in real life, and I stuck to the regular buttons after trying them out for a while.
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