Today I spent most of my time at the CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis. While there, I got some hands on time with a Sony Tablet S, a 3D gaming experience for the PS3, and a 3D 1st person shooter game for the Xbox 360. I’m going to give all three some love and end with the Sony Tablet S. I’ll probably focus mostly on the Sony Tablet S, because it was what I spent the most time with today. It’s slick, but there are a few problems.
3D gaming for the Xbox 360
Let me start with the 3D 1st person shooter for the Xbox 360. I played it for a little while. It was horrible. The game play might have been fun, if everything wasn’t ridiculously blurry. It was like I could see three of everything on the screen. I knew the middle one was always right, but I shouldn’t have to make a guess between three images ever. It was really bad. Since the booth wasn’t run by Microsoft and I had never heard of the television company before, I’m not going to spend any more time on this since it probably wasn’t official. I will say this though, the guy next to me said it was “pretty impressive”. I instantly wondered if he understood the meaning of the word impressive (or pretty for that matter).
3D gaming for the PS3
The 3D gaming experience for the PS3 on the other hand was impressive. The game they had was a racing game. To play, you sat in a seat that had a steering wheel, pedals, and a shifter attached to it. It was like playing Cruisin’ USA back in the day. The best part was they let you wear Sony HMZ-T1s, which are Personal 3D Viewers, instead of making you watch a 3D television while wearing 3D glasses. The Sony HMZ-T1s were awesome. The only disconcerting thing about them was that when I turned my head the driver in the car did not also turn his head. This detracted from the illusion that I was actually driving the car and several times caused me to crash. Aside from that, the experience was great. The 3D was awesome and the driving felt as realistic as any game I’ve ever played. I highly recommend getting one of these systems. I recommend buying a pair of Sony HMZ-T1s when they come out if you have the money.
Sony Tablet S
On to the Sony Tablet S. First impression, the UI looked slick but the tablet felt cheap in my hands. It just felt like a toy made for children (I’ve been spoiled by my iPad, I know). The Sony people didn’t seem to think how it felt was a downside to the tablet, but they did think it didn’t quite match up to the iPad. In fact, one Sony Rep literally said to me, “It’s not as nice as the iPad. You know it’s all about apps. We’ll have more apps next year.” He said this right after pulling out his iPhone 4 to show me how you could use that to control all of your Sony devices (Which made me laugh, because he was a Sony Rep with an Apple phone instead of a Sony Ericsson phone… so even Sony’s Reps would rather own Apple products?).
Moving on, the Sony Tablet S has an IR bug on the front that would allow you to control any television, DVD player or BluRay player that can be controlled by a remote control. The Rep I was talking with told me that the Sony Tablet S couldn’t control the Playstation 3, but I’m pretty certain that using Bluetooth (instead of IR) the Sony Tablet S can control the Playstation 3. That’s pretty cool. Unfortunately the tablets on display at the Sony booth weren’t able to demonstrate this capability today.
On to the games…
I was able to play Angry Birds, Pinball Heroes, and Crash Bandicoot on the tablet. Angry Birds worked just like normal. No surprise there. Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Heroes are both legacy Playstation games (these two games come pre-loaded on the tablets and supposedly there are more legacy games coming, but those will not be pre-loaded and will probably cost money). Pinball Heroes looked fine and played great. It wasn’t anything impressive, just a typical pinball game. I was hoping that if I shook the tablet then the virtual pinball table would shake, but I had no such luck. I quickly moved on to Crash Bandicoot. It looked horrible on the Sony Tablet S. It had tons of jagged edges and was a little jittery. I wasn’t impressed with the graphics. The virtual D-Pad wasn’t very responsive (but then again none of the touch functions were that responsive across the whole experience). I found myself constantly falling into pits and running into enemies even though my thumb was in a position to move me in the opposite direction.
The Rep I was talking with told me the Sony Tablet S is going to have a lot of Playstation and Playstation 2 games on it. When I asked a Rep if these games would link up with PSN and have trophies and allow players to increase their trophy count to level up (what Xbox users know as gamerscore which is dictated by achievement points), the Rep told me he had no idea. This was a bit disconcerting. The Rep then asked his boss who also didn’t know. It was a bit awkward, especially since they both kept reassuring me (over and over) that it would fully integrate with the Playstation Suite. Was that some sort of creepy mantra?
I loved that the Sony Tablet S came preloaded with a Music Beta by Google app (technically Music Beta by Google is just built into the Android Music App, still awesome from the eyes of an iPad user who just got a net app released for Music Beta by Google today which doesn’t quite stack up). I also liked that it had a tapered back which made it so that instead of sitting flat on a surface, the tablet seemed to be almost propped up (when in landscape mode… landscape mode being the best way to use a tablet for gamers). This just made it easier to hold and easier to set down while gaming. I didn’t like the lack of apps and thought it was ridiculous that the Sony people kept pushing flash as a selling point for the tablet. I can’t remember the last time I visited a site on my iPad that told me I couldn’t view it because I didn’t have Flash. It’s just not that necessary. I almost laughed out loud when the Sony Rep I was talking to told me that they were working with Adobe to make a lot of apps for their Sony tablet using Adobe AIR. Adobe AIR never seems to work right for me (as a result I think it’s horrible and I have a prejudice against it). All said though the Sony Tablet S is a cool device and for anyone who is already entrenched in the Sony Playstation ecosystem, I recommend buying one.
Update: I forgot to mention that the Sony Rep told me that the Sony Tablet S would load web pages much faster than an iPad would. I tried to load the ingamingwetrust.com website and it took almost 3 times longer than my iPad does… Although, that could have been due to the fact that we were in a convention hall and the tablet wasn’t really getting a good connection to the internet. If that was the case, then it’s funny that the Rep even told me to try.
What tablets are you waiting to buy?