Xperia Sony Tablet S Sheds the Fat, Intros Multitasking Small Apps

Sony has announced an update to their Tablet S Series, and this time around, they are calling it the Xperia Tablet S. The Xperia Tablet S features the same unique wedge shape design of the original Tablet S, but this device is significantly thinner and lighter than its predecessor. More specifically, the Xperia Tablet S weighs 1.26lbs and measures 9.45” (Width) x 0.35”~0.47” (Height) x 6.87” (Depth). It’s also worth taking notice that Sony has named the tablet Xperia, indicating a new brand relationship with their Xperia smartphones.

In any case, the Xperia Tablet S is more or less an evolution of the original Tablet S that addresses many of the original’s weaknesses, including size. Sony has also redesigned the tablet’s charger connector so that there is no more power brick on the cable, and instead it’s more compact. And they have added HDMI out too.

But putting those design aspects aside, Sony has really designed the Xperia Tablet S to be an entertainment centric tablet, and more specifically, one used in the living room. To that effect, they have carried on its heritage of working as a universal remote control. The Universal Remote app has also been revamped to include macro functionality. That means that users can use it to program their own sequence of commands, like “Watch TV” or “Play Music”. These commands can then be performed with a single tap!

Sony has also bundled the tablet with their exclusive Watch Now app which offers a slick visual program guide for users while watching TV. The app lets user easily discover new shows based on their personal preferences. Finally, Sony is also preloading the tablet with their Video and Music Unlimited apps.

“We know that eighty-eight percent of tablet owners in the US are using their tablets in the living room,¹ and are multi-tasking with their tablets while watching TV,” said Phil Lubell, vice president of networked technologies and services at Sony Electronics. “We wanted to enhance that living room experience by providing interactive and useful features with the Xperia Tablet S.”

But doubling as a Universal Remote isn’t the only unique trick up its sleeve, because the Xperia Tablet S also offers some neat multitasking tricks. In particular, the tablet has a feature called Small Apps. These are essentially minimized versions of the web browser, calculator, remote control, recorder, timer, memo and scrapbook apps. These Small Apps can run simultaneously while using another application. Furthermore, the Small Apps functionality can even extend to any Widgets that are downloaded to the device, so that they can also be used for multitasking.

Finally, the Xperia Tablet S comes with a convenient Guest Mode feature. Guest Mode allows for personalized configurations for different users by displaying different wallpaper, applications and widgets.

Under the hood, the tablet is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM. Unfortunately, Sony has opted to use the same 9.4″ display on the Xperia Tablet S that was in the previous Tablet S. While the display is a pretty good display with a decent 1280 x 800 resolution, in an age of Retina displays, it’s a bit unimpressive.

Sony is also introducing a slew of neat accessories for the Tablet S. That includes some colorful carrying cases, a charging cradle ($39), a docking speaker ($99.99), and a Docking Stand which basically transforms the Tablet S into a workstation. But most of all, we’re especially digging the slim Cover with Keyboard ($99.99) which sports a touch based keyboard. We tried the keyboard out for ourselves and were impressed with how responsive it is. In any case, kudos to Sony for coming out with so many accessories right out of the gate. After all, we know that so many Android tablets really lack in the accessory field.

The Xperia Tablet S ships running Android 4.0. The 16GB Wi-Fi only model will retail for $399, while the 32GB model will retail for $499, and the 64GB for $599.