In fact at its best the Sony Tablet P can feel like a multi-monitor setup in the palm of your hands and its form factor allows it to adopt either a tablet or laptop form factor depending on what is most useful at the time. The trouble is for every positive found in the Tablet P there is an equally powerful negative.
Most fundamental are the screen bezels. These are thinnest between the two screens but there is still 9mm (the thickness of a modern smartphone) between them which means your eyes never truly believes the illusion that they are watching one big screen. Worst still, the two screens are not generally bezel-corrected whereby the image is adjusted so it looks like the black bar of the bezel is physically in front of a larger screen, rather than the content starting and stopping either side of it.
With no bezel correction, content looks unnaturally seperated
Another fundamental problem is the aspect ratio itself which spread over two screens fits nothing properly at all. Videos have huge borders at any angle as do standard apps (some of which warp and stretch) and basic tasks like scrolling are made hugely frustrating when the action is broken every time your finger reaches the bezels between them. In short: unless both screens are truly borderless the whole concept simply doesn't work and it is relegated to freak status, a perfect illustration of Sony's simultaneous ability to be brave and utterly weird.
There are other shortcomings too. The five megapixel rear camera produces poor results with heavily pixelated images even in good light (though in fairness this is somewhat typical of tablets still) and the battery life lasted well under seven hours – not appalling but short of the competition. Despite this, so odd is the Tablet P we would like to recommend it for those craving something different, but with just 4GB of memory as standard for a hefty £499 RRP (£100 more than a 16GB iPad 2), which isn't being heavily discounted yet, it is an overly expensive experiment.
The Tablet P is the perfect illustration of why Sony has risen so high but also fallen so low. Its clamshell, dual screen design is daring, well made and has some key killer applications. The screens themselves are also of wonderful quality and the whole device has a premium feel. Unfortunately reality sets in and for its core tasks the Tablet P is more hindrance than help.
The dual screen aspect ratio doesn't work well with standard apps, video playback is horribly boxed off and simple actions like scrolling are made difficult by the dead area in the bezel between the two screens. Meanwhile the bezel itself is too thick to ever let the eye view both screens as a single display. We would love to recommend the Tablet P to those intrigued by its possibilities, but with an price that is more expensive than the competition, a proprietary charging port and a large power brick, it practicality won't let us.