/// Two Screens Aren’t Better Than One for Sony Tablet P

March 21, 2012  |  All Things Digital


One way to stand out in a crowded category of devices is to employ a novel hardware design. Last year, Sony got decent marks from many reviewers, including me, for an Android tablet called the Tablet S, crafted to look like a magazine, with one thick, rounded vertical edge that made it more comfortable to hold than many other tablets. Now, the company has brought out another Android tablet with an even more radical design, and this one shows the limits of novelty. [ See post to watch video ] The new Tablet P, sold in AT&T stores, is a 7-inch long, narrow, hinged device with no exposed display at all. When you open it, twin small screens are revealed. Content can appear on one of the two screens, or be spread across both. It can operate over either a Wi-Fi or a cellular-data connection. It sounds cool, but the Tablet P has some crucial drawbacks. The most important one is that, to take advantage of its full viewing area by using both screens as a single display, you must put up with a thick, black, plastic bar across the center of whatever you’re viewing. That disruptive scar is the inside of the hinge, where the dual screens meet. Some apps avoid that absurd situation by cramming all their content into just one screen. But these screens are small, just 5.5 inches diagonally, closer to the area of a large smartphone than Sony’s Tablet S or the iPad, whose screens are about 10 inches. When content is spread across both screens, as it is in the Web browser, the combined display is about 7 inches, but that black bar is present. To be fair, Sony has modified or created some apps so they take intelligent advantage of the dual screens, without the black bar to annoy you. For instance, the email app uses the bottom screen to list your messages and the top one to show whichever message you’re reading. Similarly, the stock video player, and many games, use the bottom screen for control buttons and the top for the content. But at launch, there are only about 40 such specially adapted apps out of the hundreds of thousands of Android apps the Tablet P can run.

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Two Screens Aren’t Better Than One for Sony Tablet P


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