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Tech Reviews simon on 01 Dec 2011 05:51 pm

Sony Tablet S: It’s pretty cool

imageI received a Sony Tablet S this week to test and review. It was an opportunity to have a play with the device and use it properly at home and out and about – something that you aren’t able to do with in-store demonstrations.

After using it for a few days, I think it’s time to write my review. Here goes. You can click on the pictures for a larger view.

 

There’s not much in the product box. There’s the tablet, the AC charger and a few sheets of paper including a quick-start guide pamphlet. There isn’t a product manual or any other accessories apart from a strap (which I don’t think has too much use on a tablet to be honest). So in terms of what you get out-of-the-box, I find it somewhat lacking and disappointing. No USB cable? No SD card? It’s a shame as there is even space in the box for more things!

 

Moving on to the tablet itself; the Sony Tablet is designed to be easy to hold with one hand, due to one side being thicker to provide more weight to that side and in extension, your palm. Most of the back has a series of little bumps to aid in grip. The design is good, the power/lock and volume buttons are located in a little “ridge” if you like, on the edge of the tablet. Also located on the opposite side is a micro USB connection point and a slot to insert SD external storage as well as a microphone/headphone port. Overall, it is nice to hold and has a nice weight to it but at the same time it’s not heavy and doesn’t feel flimsy – despite how it looks, it’s actually quite rigid.

On the bottom is where the power cable connects. I don’t really like this too much. When it’s connected, it wriggles around and doesn’t feel like it’s secure. It is also somewhat bulky and you have to plug it in a certain way, no moving it around which is less convenient. I would have preferred the ability to charge through the USB port like I do with my phone.

 

The tablet runs a version of Android (3.2) designed for tablets. It works very well and is nice and fluid. Combined with the great specs of the tablet (1ghz dual core processor, 1gb RAM) it makes it a pleasant experience to use and navigate. It doesn’t take much getting used to or learning to be able to use the software – it’s very easy to pick up and start doing things which is always good. Browsing the web is a breeze, and I’m even able to view desktop sites (ie. non-mobile optimised) on the clear 9.4” screen.

Being Android, there is a large amount of apps available through the Market (accessible from the device) in addition to the preloaded apps provided by Sony. My favourite would have to be the Universal Remote Control which uses the Tablet’s IR sensor to be able to control almost anything that uses an IR remote. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked, I could just select my brand of TV and went through the preset remotes and it worked great. It also has the ability to learn from other remotes and map/edit the buttons to make a custom remote – I was really impressed by this.

 

The Sony tablet is the first tablet to be “PlayStation Certified”. This allows certain PlayStation games to be played on the device and also gains access to the PlayStation store which ties in to Sony’s PSN and Entertainment Networks. The tablet is also preloaded with Music and Video Unlimited apps which uses the same network to stream music and movies on demand. This would be a great feature for a lot of people.

Some other features worth mentioning: There’s two cameras, front and rear which allows you to record video and take photos. The advantage of two cameras is that it makes Skyping more convenient as you can have the tablet facing either way. The tablet has a GPS built in and together with Google maps, makes a great navigating tool.

The official battery life info states that the tablet will last 430 hours on standby and up to 8 hours of normal use (browsing web with Wi-Fi, watching video, listening to music). Having used the device first-hand, these figures are pretty accurate and I find myself having to charge maybe every one to one and a half days with medium use. It could be a little better, but there isn’t much to compare it to as the tablet is a unique device with different functions and uses.

What I like

  • Design. It’s easy to hold and it doesn’t look at all ugly.
  • Android OS. Good selection of apps and easy to use.
  • Has IR technology. Works with universal remote app, very handy.
  • Gaming capability. I’m a gamer. Anything I can game on is A-OK. :P
  • Two cameras.
  • WiFi. The tablet supports IEEE 802.11b/g/n. So it’s universal in that sense.
  • GPS. No need to buy a SatNav, the tablet does that for you (although lack of a constant internet connection does hamper this ability).
  • Bluetooth. You aren’t stuck to just your bulky headset, you can use the same device you use for your phone.

What could be better

  • I feel that the box should include more accessories or at least something more than just sheets of paper
  • Charging mechanism
  • The keyboard. This is more of an Android issue than with the tablet itself but the keyboard is a pain to type with, especially in landscape mode. The text correction needs work too.
  • The price. The tablet is a little too dear for my liking. Almost $600 for the 16gb model is a lot, especially if you compare it to smartphones and laptops around the same price range. It doesn’t even have 3g.

In conclusion, I very much like the Sony Tablet (as you probably have noticed in my other posts). I wasn’t too interested in owning a tablet but I thought I’d try this one out and I am very happy I did, using the Sony tablet has got me very interested in tablets and what they can do for me around the house as well as out and about.

If you are in the market for a tablet, be sure to consider the Sony Tablet S as it is one of the best out at the moment. It’s at the top of my Christmas/birthday wishlist for sure.

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3 Responses to “Sony Tablet S: It’s pretty cool”

  1. on 01 Dec 2011 at 11:20 pm 1.burger said …

    Great, honest review of the tablet :)

    I didn’t think I’d be interested in owning a tablet either, but this review has given me second thoughts!

  2. on 02 Dec 2011 at 4:07 pm 2.Jacklyne said …

    Good review, better than the ones I used to read in websites. Do you surf the facebook website using the default browser or the app?

  3. on 02 Dec 2011 at 4:29 pm 3.simon said …

    I tend to use the Facebook website as I find it more reliable then using the apps.

    The tablet is able to run the desktop version of the website fairly well too, the big screen helps a lot; the only thing that’s missing is Facebook chat.

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