Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY

So does the love child of Android and the PSP Go measure up? Well, yes and no. The PLAY is far from Kim Kardashian sexy, but its main highlight, that slide-out gamepad, does a good job of giving you a portable PlayStation controller. The slideout motion is sturdy, revealing a gamepad and those iconic PS buttons. Nestled between those are a pair of touchpads, intended to duplicate that tried-and-true dual-stick feel. The touchpads are an acquired taste, and they never quite feel as natural as analog sticks—or even the PSP’s much-maligned analog nub. Seriously, why not put two analog nubs in the PLAY, since the thing is already nearly as thick as a stacked pair of iPad 2s? Still, the configuration is as good as it comes on a cellphone. What lies underneath, however, isn’t.

Buried under all the piano black is a 1 Ghz processor and Adreno graphics, and neither can keep up with higher-end gaming. Asphalt 6 was a framerate nightmare, and even the ultra-simple I Must Run froze up twice in two days. The device could still acquit itself nicely if it handles the expected flood of PSX ports well, but that remains to be seen.
VERDICT: For now, wait for the inevitable Xperia PLAY 2 (due out next year is our guess) or a lengthy series of updates. This phone’s not ready for prime time.