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Hand on E3: Sony Xperia Play

The Xperia Play is Sony Ericsson’s first PlayStation brandedSony Xperia Play. phone promising to mesh the gaming experience from a regular portable platform with the functionality of a phone. According to the representatives at this year’s E3 event, the Xperia is the world’s most powerful phone running the latest Android Gingerbread operating system. Featuring the 1GHz Snapdragon II processor and the Adreno 205 graphical unit, this phone promises a high powered mobile phone and gaming affair.

The phone features a touch screen with flip out controls, similar to the design of the PlayStation controllers. The touch screen is mainly utilized to control the device as a phone with some functionality given during gameplay, with the directional pad and classic four button system provided the gaming control. The two analog joysticks are replaced by two touch sensitive pads which are meant to act in the same manner.

We were able to demo the Xperia at this year’s E3 convention playing a plethora of game genres including a first-person-shooter (FPS) to a sport snowboard game. The FPS controlled just like it would on the Sony PSP with dual joystick controls for movement with the shoulder buttons for firing and reloading. Graphically, the game looked stunning for a mobile phone and could easily be mistaken as one coming from a dedicated mobile gaming platform. Snowboarding was no different with visuals on par with expectations.

Xperia controls.Graphics aside the phone felt and played sloppily with loose controls and an uncomfortable design. The size of the device is similar to any smart phone, but the small stature can be an issue when playing the Xperia for any extended amount of time. My hands and fingers were exhausted and cramped after only a few minutes of playing.

While the buttons themselves posed no issues, the new touch sensitive joysticks were difficult to master. Unlike their analog counter parts which sprang back to center when released, the track pads forced your thumbs to hover over the pad in order to reset the joystick position creating a uncoordinated ballet of thumb movement.

The Xperia is a wonderful phone that tries to also be a hand held game platform, but falls short on its duty. If only the opposite were true then would I see the real potential in the idea.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is out now exclusive to the Verizon Wireless network.

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