In a world flooded with way too many Android tablets, the Sony S tablet manages to stand out. For starters, this is a tablet that is heavily focused on video gaming and home entertainment. Plus, it also sports a unique design, that isn’t quite radical – but it is quite practical.
Lets face it, most tablets nowadays all look alike. Or they are trying to follow in the footsteps of a certain popular tablet. Fortunately, it’s apparent that Sony took the time out to create a unique and very functional design. That is because the Sony Tablet S is designed to resemble a book folded over. This ergonomic design allows for the tablet to rest comfortably on your lap at an angle. The device weighs 21.09 ounces in total and also sports a textured finish on the back which helps when gripping the device. Overall, the device’s build quality is top notch, which is what we usually expect from Sony.
The Tablet S sports a 9.4″ Tru-black display with a 1280×800 resolution and 161 ppi. This display is pretty good with sharp visuals and good color reproduction. It’s definitely one of the better tablet displays out there, although it’s not nearly as good as Apple’s retina display or Samsung’s AMOLED displays.
Under the hood, the Sony Tablet S’s specs are quite ordinary, but plenty adequate. The system packs in a NVIDIA Tegra2 dual-core 1Ghz processor. The result is a capable performer that handles gaming well, including games from Sony’s PlayStation certification program.
Sony has spent some time revamping the Honeycomb interface with special U.I. touches like a Pulse-style favorites shortcut menu that can be pulled up at the right side of the screen. Sony has also bundled the Tablet S with apps like Crackle, UStream, Evernote, File Transfer, MediaRemote, Music Unlimited, Remote Control. Social Feed Reader, Video Unlimited, and more.
Social Feed Reader brings together your Twitter and Facebook social network updates in to a single unique and quite slick interface that lets you view updates in a time line form, or in a form with video and pictures. Meanwhile, Music and Video Unlimited are Sony’s very own services which offer unlimited streaming from a catalog of their music and videos.
Another important aspect of the Tablet S is its heavy focus on gaming. Sony has carried through their PlayStation heritage here by bundling the tablet with games like Crash Bandicoot, which is a port of the original PlayStation game. The device also comes preloaded with the PlayStation Store which offers other classic PlayStation games to purchase and download such as MediEvil. These games all cost $5.99 each, and are leagues ahead of most of the games that are generally available for the Android platform.
Now here is one feature that is totally untypical of most other tablets, and that is that the Tablet S works as a universal IR remote control right out of the box. Within a minute you can be using it as a massive and very useful universal remote control. The first time I tried this function was in a hotel room in Sedona, Arizona. The Tablet S was able to recognize and control the TV in the room right away. In addition, the Tablet S remote software can also learn other remote control’s functions by holding up the remote to the Tablet S. It’s also able to control multiple devices at once, like your TV, Cable Box, iPod Dock, etc. So at the end of the day, the Tablet S ends up being not just a great tablet, but a killer universal remote, the likes of which would cost you a few hundred dollars alone. Granted, the iPad and other tablets can also work as universal remotes, but they require additional add-on accessories to function as one.
The Tablet S sports a 5MP rear-facing camera with autofocus and a .3 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls. The rear-facing camera can even record in 720p HD @ 30fps. The rear-facing camera produces pretty good stills which are a little better than average in comparison to other tablets. That said, its pictures tend to be sharp, but colors can be a bit muted.
The tablet S also sports a dedicated SD card slot. This is a great feature to have that not enough tablets offer, as it lets you transfer off and edit photos on to the tablet on the fly that you just have taken on your camera. Unfortunately, this SD card slot can not be used to expand the tablet’s memory.
We have to admit that we were skeptical about the Sony Tablet S’s unusual form-factor at first, but we have come to appreciate its slight angle when typing or while resting the device on our laps. All in all, the Sony Tablet S may not be the most portable tablet out there, nor the fastest one, but we would consider it to be an excellent entertainment and multimedia oriented tablet. If you’re looking for a more portable form-factor in a tablet from Sony, you might want to check out the Sony Tablet P.
Unfortunately, the Tablet S is currently available running the aging Honeycomb 3.2 OS. However, according to the Verge, an Android 4.0 update for the tablet S should be available soon. Pricing for the Sony Tablet S begins at $399 for the 16GB model and $499 for the 32GB model, although it can be found for even less on Amazon.
The Good: Great display, built-in full-size SD card reader, works as an IR universal remote control, PlayStation certified for gaming, Sony has refined the U.I. with some helpful tweaks and special apps, built-in DLNA functionality
The Bad: Comes with a proprietary charging cable – so don’t lose the charger! During testing the Wi-Fi connection frequently dropped, memory isn’t expandable