PSP Phones: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Zeus Z1 Playstation Phone

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PSP Phones: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Zeus Z1 Playstation Phone

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, codenamed Zeus Z1 is a smartphone based on the Sony PSP portable handheld gaming console, developed by Sony Ericsson. It is the the first Sony PlayStation Phone to hit the market.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Zeus Z1 was revealed officially for the first time in a Super Bowl ad in February 2011. Running Android Gingerbread 2.3, Xperia Play Zeus Z1 is the first PSP Phones to be part of the PlayStation Certified program which means that it is able to play PlayStation Suite games.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY, a fusion of Gamepad and Android phone, has access to special ports of games from Sony's legacy of PlayStation titles, in addition to the growing number of games available to the Android platform itself. In order to make good use of its PlayStation certification, the PLAY features a unique slide-out gaming pad with controls that mimic a PlayStation controller, including two touch-sensitive pads in place of the usual analog sticks.

PSP Phones: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Zeus Z1 Playstation Phone Specs

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is fully integrated with option features such as auto focus 5MP LED flash camera. It has some great internet applications, such as Google Talk, Calendar, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps, Gmail, and Google Search integration.

To provide more improved network coverage, new Xperia Play working with HSDPA 900/2100; 3G network and GSM 850/900/1800/1900; 2G network. You can upgrade the 315 MB, 380 MB RAM up to 32 GB for micro SD card slot if you think the storage is not sufficient for your needs. Here under is a complete Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Zeus Z1 Playstation Phone Specs chart:

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Zeus Z1 Playstation Phone Specs

PSP Phones: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Zeus Z1 Playstation Phone Review

The front of the PLAY sports a 4-inch, FWVGA (480 x 854 pixel) touchscreen above four physical keys for the standard Android functions of back, home, menu, and search. The screen itself is not bad, though it definitely does not have the punch or wow factor of a Super AMOLED Plus or even a Super LCD display. It could stand to be a bit more responsive to my touch as well, as sometimes it would take multiple presses or swipes before the screen would register my input.

The buttons themselves are small and a bit fiddly, though they did work when I needed them too. The cheap chrome finish on them has got to go, though; it looks bad now, and I imagine it will not wear well over time. The rest of the phone is made of glossy plastic, which not only gives a cheap feel to the PLAY, but is also a serious fingerprint magnet.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Zeus Z1 Playstation Phone Specs

The rear cover constantly looked filthy with smears and fingerprints, so I was constantly wiping it off with my t-shirt. A textured or soft-touch back would have lent a lot to the feel one would expect to get from a $200 smartphone. The power button, which is tucked in the upper right corner of the phone, is very tiny and hard to access. It features an integrated notification light, which is cool, though I found it a bit tough to notice since the button is tucked behind the display.

As far as the gaming pad goes, certain functions worked well, while others missed the mark. The four-way directional pad and the square, triangle, circle, and X buttons worked nicely and were responsive during game play. The touchpads that are designed to mimic analog sticks were a different story though. I found it hard to use them to control objects in games, and found them to do different things from what I was expecting quite often. With the thickness of the Xperia PLAY, I think Sony Ericsson could have used the analog stick found on the PSP gaming handheld without much trouble.

The shoulder keys that are accessible with your index fingers when gaming were not very responsive either. There were multiple times when I would press the keys and not get any response in games. Thankfully, the actual slider mechanism of the gamepad feels solid and sturdy, and should withstand a good amount of use.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Dimensions
The display is also positioned off-center towards the bottom of the phone, which provided an awkward handling position when used in portrait orientation. Here under is a form factor and dimension comparison of Sony Ericsson Xperia Play with various competitor devices:
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Zeus Z1 Playstation Phone Review Comparison with competitor devices

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Usability
The Verizon Wireless version of the Xperia PLAY features a stock version of the Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system. This, combined with a snappy, second-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processor clocked at 1GHz, makes the PLAY fast and quick to use, with little or no lag for most functions.

While stock Gingerbread might not have the over-the-top look of custom interfaces like HTC's Sense UI and Samsung's TouchWiz, it is cohesive and easy enough to use. There are five homescreens available that a user can populate with shortcuts and widgets to personalize their experience. Android 2.3 Gingerbread's improved copy and paste works well, and the newer version of the Android keyboard is the best stock Android keyboard to date.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Voice and Data
The Xperia PLAY is not a 4G phone, therefore it relies on a 3G CDMA radio and Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) for data connectivity. The data performance with the PLAY was reliable in that it did not drop connections often. I did find that it was a bit slower than other Verizon 3G phones in the same areas when connected over 3G, which was a bit surprising.

It would have been nice to have seen a 4G option on the PLAY, as Verizon's 3G network, while reliable, is not known for blistering data speeds. Wi-Fi performance was as expected, and the capability to use a 802.11n network was a nice addition. The Xperia PLAY for Verizon Wireless does not have a GSM radio in it, so it can only be used in areas where there are CDMA networks available.

Calling performance with the PLAY was acceptable, if not out of the ordinary. Callers were easy to hear with both the earpiece and the speakerphone, and I was able to be heard clearly on the other end. The speakerphone did not get very distorted at full volume, either, as it does with most phones. I did not experience any dropped calls with the Xperia PLAY.
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