Lately I’ve been holding out on picking up a new tablet, waiting for the right product to come along to finally make me take the plunge. With that in mind, I spent a weekend with Sony’s new tablet – the Sony Tablet S.
Right out of the box the new Sony Tablet S has a distinctive design and brings a new look into the crowded tablet market. I was initially a little sceptical of the new design, but after just an hour of use I was sold on the tablet’s wedge shape. The shape makes it easy to grip and hold in just about any position, landscape or portrait and, due to the distribution of weight, it feels lighter than it actually is. Also, unlike any other tablet out there, when placed flat on a desk typing is comfortable and the screen is easier to see.
Like most other Android tablets on the market it has some common specifications including a dual-core Tegra 2 processor clocked at 1GHz, 1GB of memory and Android 3.1 firmware. It also comes with an SD card slot, GPS receiver, micro-USB connection and Bluetooth, plus you’re able to view Flash websites (unlike its Apple counterparts).
With the standard specs out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the unique stuff Sony has packed in.
As mentioned, the design really sets it apart and is the biggest standout feature. While the display touch screen is a little smaller than the usual 10.1” (the Sony Tablet S has a 9.4″ touch screen), it has a resolution of 1280 x 800 so you would be pretty hard pressed to notice the difference. The camera quality is higher than most other tablets, boasting a 0.3 megapixel camera on the front and 5.0 megapixel camera on the back.
Battery life is solid and you can expect to get around four or five hours out of it with heavy use, about nine hours of moderate use and multiple days of occasional use. I enjoyed the numeric keypad that appears on the QWERTY keyboard when the tablet is in landscape mode – no toggling between keyboard modes required.
The universal infrared (IR) remote is a nice addition and allows you to control Sony televisions. You’re also able to “throw” your music, photos, and videos stored on the Sony Tablet to other devices – all targeted at increasing your digital living.
The exclusive apps
I’d recommend checking out a few cool applications including Social Feed Reader (letting you keep track of your social media in one spot), Music – Music Unlimited (giving you access to seven million songs for a monthly fee) and Movies & TV – Video Unlimited (allowing you to buy or rent films to play on a range of devices). In addition to Video Unlimited there is Crackle, an ad-supported app, which provides free movies and TV on Sony devices. The number of movies and TV shows is a bit thin for Australia, but is expected to grow over time.
Things I’m not sold on
The Sony Tablet S is currently a WiFi only tablet, with no 3G connectivity available. There may be a 3G model sometime in 2012, but it’s unknown whether this will become available in Australia.
Another potential issue is that it can only be charged using the proprietary cable. Though admittedly, this means charging is quicker than with regular micro-USB.
The Sony Tablet S is PlayStation™ Certified, so you can download classic PlayStation One and PSP game titles. It’s great for a few nostalgic minutes, but the controls take some getting used to and I’m not convinced of the value the feature adds.
So am I the proud owner of a new Sony Tablet S? Unfortunately not.
While the design is great, the lack of 3G knocks it out of contention for me. It seems that Sony is looking to position this as a ‘Media Tablet’. The potential is there, but improving the available content is a must. If other content is improved to the same level as its Unlimited Music feature and 3G is made available (and perhaps a price cut) then I could see this as an alternative to an iPad2. For now though, I will keep waiting.
Image credit: CNET UK