The video: The Xperia Play, Sony's forthcoming phone-meets-videogame player, has been "one of the worst- kept secrets in gaming," says Andrew Webster at Ars Technica. Rumors emerged in August, pictures in October, and this week, the tech blog Engadget got its hands on a Chinese prototype and posted a detailed review. (See a video, below.) The Xperia, designed with frequent gamers in mind, features a "slide-out gamepad with four PlayStation style buttons" — plus all the trappings of a modern touchscreen smartphone, such as a five-megapixel camera and the new Gingerbread version of the Android operating system. Sony is expected to offically unveil its new toy at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress, which begins on February 14.
The reaction: "Having touched the actual gamepad on an Xperia Play," says Richard Lai at Engadget, "we'd be lying if we say we're not further tempted by it." The video games all ran "pretty well," and the phone functionality is "snappy and fairly stable" though a "flimsy" battery door is a definite design flaw. "Unanswered questions" still abound: How will games be priced, billed, and delivered? How much will the gadget cost? This looks like "a solid device, especially for serious mobile gamers," says Adam Frucci at DVice. Gameplaying on the iPhone is limited by its touchscreen, but the XPeria's controls "solve that problem swimmingly." Watch a video of the Xperia in action: