Sony‘s Tablet P is nothing if not unique. The device’s form factor and design has split opinion widely since it first surfaced a few weeks ago and now it’s here with us we’re still unsure what to make of the enigmatic little device.
Its opponent in our comparison is another small tablet with plenty to offer, and we’re aiming to find out whether the novel Tablet P can hold its own against then equally small, but more traditional Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition.
The Sony Tablet P features dual 5.5-inch TFT screens which operate at a resolution of 1024 x 480 and boast a pixel density of 206PPI.
The dual-screen arrangement works well for the device and when closed the device is super portable, which is something that cannot be said for other devices that offer over 10-inches of screen space.
The Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition has an 8.2-inch HD TFT which operates at a resolution of 800 x 1280 and has a more than acceptable pixel density of 184PPI.
Motorola has done well with the Xoom 2 ME, managing to strike a nice balance between portability and screen quality, and the display responds well and offers excellent quality visuals.
The novelty of the Tablet P is something that we feel will wear off fast. Its displays are good, but no one in their right mind would rather browse the Web on something akin to the giant Nintendo DS-XL when they could choose a nice, single piece of glass.
Winner – Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition
Android is the order of the day for both tablets here and they both thrive as a result of the software’s fast, stable core.
The version in use on both devices, Honeycomb (3.2), is customised for tablet use and offers re-designed core apps, a new user interface and plenty of other refinements to make it both easy to use and powerful.
As has been said before, the Android Market, for all its virtues, does lack support for tablets, with a minimal amount of featured content developed with bigger screened devices in mind. This is changing, but not very rapidly. If you’re after tablet-centric apps then you’ll have to look elsewhere or be very patient.
That aside, the Android OS allows both of our contenders to shine. They’re both fast, easy to navigate and offer full flash browsing, which is a great selling point in a market dominated by iPad‘s.
Winner – Draw
Sony’s Tablet P features a primary 5-megapixel camera with autofocus, touch focus, image stabilisation, geo-tagging and face & smile detection, as well as 720P video capture.
The device also offers a secondary VGA camera, for video calling and the like.
Performance is good with the primary camera, though the device would benefit from an LED flash to enhance darker environments.
The Xoom 2 Media Edition benefits from a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and geo-tagging, as well as 720P movie capture.
The primary camera performs well but, as you’d expect, it won’t replace your compact or SLR. Shots can appear a little bit noisy at times, and the shutter speed might be a concern to some.
Motorola has also given the Xoom 2 Media Edition a 1.3-megapixel secondary camera for video-calling which performs really well, even in lower light areas.
Winner – Sony Tablet P
Form & Build
Sony Tablet P – 180 x 158 x 14 mm (open) & 180 x 79 x 28 mm (closed), 372g
Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition – 216 x 139 x 9 mm, 386g
Sony has done a good job designing the Tablet P. The device is compact, comfortable to use and feels robust without ever feeling cumbersome. The dual-screen layout is okay, but does feel like a sacrifice when you consider that playable media is limited to the top screen, which is not much bigger than a smartphone display.
Motorola has a good reputation for building durable, good looking devices and the Xoom 2 Media Edition will certainly enhance that. It’s slim, comfortable to hold and operate and comes in at a great size, ideal for those that cart their tech around all day.
Winner – Motorola Xoom 2 Tablet Edition
The Sony Tablet P is driven by a 1GHz dual-core CPU and ULP GeForce GPU, giving it plenty of power for things that matter. The device also offers 1GB RAM and support for micro SD cards up to 32GB in size, which you’ll be using a lot as it only offers 4GB of on-board storage space.
Gaming on the Tablet P is fast and visually rewarding. but we feel it owes its nous in that area to its Nintedo-esque form factor, browsing is snappy and the overall performance was pleasing though, as has been widely reported, the device does suffer from dreadful WiFi signal issues.
The Motorola Xoom 2 has the same chipset as the Sony Tablet P but Motorola has chosen to clock the device up to 1.2GHz, milking a decent performance boost out of the hardware. The ULP GeForce GPU offers the same gaming performance, which is nice, and the device also offers up 1GB RAM.
Storage is an issue in the Xoom 2 Media Edition though, as it fails to offer support for external memory cards and only comes with 16GB built-in, which you’ll soon use up.
Winner – Draw
Motorola’s Xoom 2 Media Edition has seen off today’s challenge admirably.
The device is small, fast and fun to use and the solid build-quality and Razr-esque design do it no harm either. If you’re after a super-portable tablet then the Xoom 2 Media Edition should definitely make your shortlist.
The Tablet P, for all its weirdness and charm, lacks certain fundamentals that make a tablet a rewarding device to use. It’s chunky when folded, the split-screen hinders consumption of certain media dreadfully and the WiFi signal is dreadful at best, something that we’re hoping Sony will iron out with a future software update.
For now though, the Tablet P is an expensive attempt at originality that has gone wide of the mark.