So, here it is, my very first hands-on with a yet-to-be released device, the Sony Xperia Play, or, more commonly known as the PlayStation Phone. Sorry for the lack of photos; I forgot my camera (it was a Sony sponsored Best Buy training; I wasn't that excited) and my iPhone died on the way up there (4 hour bus ride from Maryland to NYC).
At a meeting in New York City at some ritzy hotel at the corner of 6th and 30th (the "Avenue of the Americas", apparently), I was treated to a preview of some pretty cool stuff that Sony has in the pipeline (most of it their version of Apple features, and their stuff isn't even on par with what Apple offers).
First off, the coolest thing of the entire thing was their 2D-to-3D conversion technology that is coming with their summer lineup of their Vaio laptops. Pop in a lame-ass, 2D Blu-ray movie or a non-3D game, and the laptop will "upconvert" it to 3D. I watched the intro to Toy Story 3 and played around the snowy airport level from Modern Warfare 2, and I have to say, it was pretty snazzy. Of course, I'm not a 3D buff, but it was impressive. Playing a FPS in 3D will definitely take some time getting used to, but I did watch a couple guys play Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and as a 2D fighter game, the 3D appeal is nothing more than exactly that: visual appeal.
I got some time in with the Xperia Play, and it's an overall let down. It's considerably smaller and lighter than the PSPgo, but the severe limitations as a PlayStation-phone won't help sales.
Seeing as it's not branded as a PlayStation phone does help Sony's defense, however, being limited to PS1 games and PSP minis aren't going to help it; it's as if Sony is trying to dig in at Apple's heels, but they can barely muster the strength to keep their grip.
I got some time in navigating the menus (Android, as we all know) and played some Angry Birds. God damn do I love that game. The touch screen on the X-Play (can I seriously call it that without Adam Sessler getting pissed?) isn't as grand as what are offered on the various iDevices (Pod/Pad/Phone), but it's enough for Angry Birds. The face buttons are considerably smaller than what you would find on the line of PSP gadgets, and the whole touch-sensitive pad near the bottom is wonky in theory.
It seems like a solid device for those who like the Android OS (I'm still learning the curves of it, as I've recently started having to sell the Galaxy at work), but as an Android/PlayStation device, there are limitations set in, such as not being able to play real PSP games on it. Until then - if ever - the Xperia Play won't live up to the many-year-long hype of a PlayStation Phone.