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First impression of Xperia Play, a Verizon PlayStation Android phone [PHOTOS and VIDEO]

Front facing Tonight I visited the Miami Beach party for the Xperia Play, getting a hands-on preview of the PlayStation Android smartphone on Verizon. Maker Sony Ericsson tied the event with its Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament going on now in Miami.

The phone wasn't activated on Verizon's network, but I got to mess with it for about an hour. This gaming geek's first impression: Stunning.

The graphics are vibrant and crisp on the 4-inch, 16 million color screen. It's easy to hold and play games -- it just feels so natural. And the 5-megapixel camera on this new Android 2.3.2 system has an updated interface that makes settings (such as flash/mode) much more simple to change in a snap (video below). It also appears to take sharp photos and video. (I couldn't send any to myself because there was no network connection.) And being a Android 2.3 OS, it includes the new Google Maps with a 3D interface, where you can zoom in and see shapes for buildings (video below).

Game screen
It comes pre-loaded with six games, and will have the option to download more: Asphalt 6, Bruce Lee, Crash Bandicoot, Madden NFL 11, Star Battalion and The Sims 3.

Controls closeup
As you can see in the photo, the PlayStation joysticks are designed as two circular touch pads, and you can adjust the sensitivity settings.

Tsquared playing At the event, I met up with Danish "DMAQ" Maqbool and Tom "Tsquared" Taylor (pictured here) of Major League Gaming. They've been using the phone for a couple days and both fell in love with it. They especially couldn't get enough of the Bruce Lee game.

Each said the touch-pad joysticks were easy to use, and battery life was not a problem. DMAQ said in one sitting he played for three hours straight and still had a little more than half his battery. Tsquared said the battery charged fast and the "speaker system is awesome." I'll take his word on that for now, since the music was too loud to judge myself.

There's no offical launch date, but it's expected to come out within three months or so, according to event organizers. I personally can't wait to give it a spin.

Photos and video of the camera's interface:

Camera2 Camera screen  

Crashbandicoot Left side

Right side Tsquared close up In this short video, Tsquared and MAQ show the Google Maps 3D layering on a map of New York.



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