Sony Tablet S [Review]
The electronics giant Sony has finally decided to join the tablet club. A little late maybe but it made me hopeful that Sony would bring us a tablet with little more edge to it.
Overview and Specs
The Sony Tablet S is a 9.4 inch Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) tablet powered by a dual core 1000 MHz processor. It has an NVIDIA Tagra 2 graphics chip and comes packed with 16 or 32 Gigabytes of internal storage with support for external SD Cards. Sony has released only a WiFi version of the tablet, but another 3G version is expected later in 2012.
The first thing I noticed about the S is the unique body shape with the nice curve on the top side simulating a folded magazine. Sony claims that this ergonomically corrected shape makes the tablet easier to carry around, and I have to agree, it does. However, the S cannot be slipped into standard protective sleeves or covers as the thickness of the tablet varies from 10.1mm on one side (bottom) to 20.6 mm on the other(top), making it thicker than any other tablet on the market.
Screen and Cameras
The screen is a beautiful-800 x 1280 pixels and 9.4 inches of vibrant colours that gave beautifully sharp images even in broad daylight, thanks to Sony’s True Black technology contrast.
The S comes with a 5 MP camera on the back with no flash, and a 1.3 MP camera on the front. Both cameras are slightly disappointing as they don’t have any of the CyberShot features as you would expect, and the photo quality isn’t that great. Sony could have used the thickness of the tablet to fit in better cameras.
Sony is marketing the S as the ultimate entertainment tablet, and ships it with software and hardware features to support this purpose.
The tablet is PlayStation certified, which I thought would mean that you could download your favourite games from the PS Store. Unfortunately though, the store has only has a few PlayStation games for this tablet so far. (You’ll need a PlayStation Network ID). You can still download more interesting 3D titles from the Android market; I’ve tried playing Asphalt 6 and this is where the Tagra graphics chip really paid off.
Being PlayStation certified, I was told that I can connect a PlayStation Sixaxis or DualShock controller as an input device, but I was not able to connect any of those neither by cable nor Bluetooth without having to root the device.
The stereo speakers on the tablet are clear and passable. I really liked the fact that you can connect the tablet via WiFi to any DLNA-enabled TV to view movies, pictures, and even play games on the big screen.
The built in programmable remote control can be used to control any Infrared enabled device. It comes pre-programmed with the controls for many devices from different manufacturers, and you can still add other new devices and the software will learn the commands directly from the original remote control – process that is time consuming but pretty straightforward. Big plus there!
Software and features
Sony has included a few other software features with the tablet, they were hardly worth the wait though. apart from that, there’s your standard Honeycomb software capabilities, with a customised (slightly faster) browser, and a customised gallery with a Picasa-like interface.
The Li-Ion battery gave a pretty good performance compared to other tablets on the market, with up to 300 hours of standby, which is great considering the size of the charger unit they’ve included with the tablet. The charger is bigger than any other mobile device charger I’ve seen, and has a weirdly shaped charging/docking plug. This is a big letdown considering that the device already has a micro-usb connector that could have easily been used to charge the tablet using any of the units you probably have lying around your house.
If you want a tablet on your coffee table, with the convenience of controlling your devices, playing movies and classic PlayStation titles on, this tablet is for you. If you are a corporate user or someone constantly on the move, I suggest you look elsewhere.
[Note] This review is also published in Computer News Middle East (link)