Next Xperia Play may have two sliding keyboards
Patent reveals unusual design
Published: 30 April, 2012
Last year witnessed the arrival of the much hyped and ultimately anti-climactic Xperia Play phone though it looks like Sony might have something more interesting up its sleeve. That's if a recently published patent is anything to go by. The patent was filed in October 2010, around the time the Xperia Play first appeared, and features not one but two slideout keyboards. One is a gamepad like the one found on the current handset and the other a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
Interestingly the QWERTY would be the default keyboard but once both are down they can be individually retracted or pulled out. It's certainly a unique design but there's no indication of how much bulk it could add to the device, a possible disadvantage. Also with screen sizes getting increasingly larger and on-screen keyboards better the physical QWERTY keyboard seems like less of an asset than it used to be on a smartphone.
The first device got PSP fans salivating as it promised to offer all the advantages of a handheld games console but failed to deliver on those promises with some mediocre hardware and a high price tag on a contract, although that eventually came down. Aside from the gamepad the only major selling point the Xperia Play offered over other smartphones was its PlayStation certification giving users exclusive access to PlayStation games.
It may have been filed back in 2010 but the patent has only just been approved by the USPTO so there's still a chance the dual-slider may be a feature in a future Sony handset. However if Sony is smart it would focus on offering better hardware, like the PS Vita, or a cheaper price tag that would attract a wider range of consumers.
Saying that the PS Vita might not be such a good example to follow as the patent has appeared at the same time of reports of poor sales of Sony's latest handheld console in Europe. The 3DS is doing better, despite Nintendo reporting its first loss for last year, but it all shows that mobile gaming has taking its toll on the dedicated portable consoles.