Review: Sony Tablet S
‘A tablet that mixes work and play’
The Sony Tablet S has recently received the Android 4.0 ICS update, so we thought it a good idea to do a full review of the device. While this device first came out in the latter part of 2011, it works just a smooth as any 2012 tab. It may not have the fastest processor to date, but the Tablet S has some seriously good things going for it.
Pros and Cons:
What we liked:
The Sony Tablet S is by far the most unique Android tablet I have ever used. Sony elected to be the first major OEM to rethink the tablet scene and create something completely of its own. When holding this tab it simply feels ‘right.’ The curves sit in the right places, without letting the Tablet S get all-too bulky. Holding it in portrait view feels like you’re holding a light, yet ultra-usable folder or book. Alternatively, the traditional landscape view encourages a feeling of high productivity and the ability for true Android gaming abilities (through PlayStation).
The salient feature of the Tablet S is most definitely the built-in infrared, which enables the tab to act as a remote control. That’s right, the Sony Tablet S acts as a remote control for thousands of TVs (we haven’t found one which doesn’t work yet). Not only that, but it also acts as a universal remote for DVD players, cable boxes, etc – our only gripe with it is that Foxtel does not come preloaded.
With the recent Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update, the Tablet S has had a whole slew of new features introduced (but more of that in the ‘User Friendliness’ section…)
What we didn’t like:
The tab has an issue with staying connected to the Internet. On far too many occasions have I found myself with ‘no connection’ after turning the screen off for only a few minutes. The connection returns within the next 20-30 seconds, but this shouldn’t happen on a mobile device. This doesn’t happen every time I put the tab to sleep, but occurs slightly too much for my liking.
Sony’s flagship tab has a tendency to open the keyboard in the most awkward of situations. I’ll be opening up the Pulse news reader, to find myself greeted with half the screen filled by an unnecessary keyboard. It’s not a huge issue and can be fixed by installing a 3rd party alternative. That being said, the recent update to Android 4.0 ICS has, for the most part, remedied the issue.
I’ve found myself becoming quite accustomed to Android’s somewhat standard 10.1” and 7” screens. It is quite strange to use the Tablet S, which features a 9.4” screen. The screen feels more like you’re using an iPad, but of lower quality. I’d love if the Sony Tab had a slightly larger screen and a smaller bezel.
The Sony Tablet S has the most unique design of any Android tablet out there. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, this tab is something in its own world. Not until late 2011 did anyone lay their eyes on anything like this.
Sony’s Tablet S feels as though it is made for the workplace. It sits perfectly on a desk/table, while looking as sleek as can be. I’ve been using it for the last 20 days, bringing it along to any meetings I go to. It may seem strange, but simply holding/using the Tablet S induces feelings of confidence and reliability. I also take the tab to my university lectures, where it performs just great.
As mentioned in the what we did like section, the Tablet S feels perfect in the hand – especially in portrait mode.
Sony usually places a large emphasis on the social aspect of their mobile devices. However, the updated Tablet S doesn’t see TimeScape built in, which is something I really liked on the Xperia S. It is instead stuck with the the ‘Social Feed Reader,’ which is hardly useful. There has been an obvious attempt to create a device that has more functionality than social sharing options.
The Tablet S has a whole variety of Sony’s applications that come baked in. While these don’t necessarily provide the utmost of functionality, Sony has really made some great additions to the general Android tab. The top and bottom of the tab feature two ‘trays’ of extra apps. The top tray (on the right) is completely customisable, with apps that appear on any of your homescreens.
The bottom tray (on the left) cannot be changed – this means the browser, remote control and calculator are there to stay. This tray features apps which are baked into the Sony Tablet S’ OS. Once opened, they pop-up on top of anything you are currently running and act on a different layer to the main operation. This is really quite good for multi-tasking and performing small tasks while busy in apps. On quite a few occasions I’ve found myself crunching some number on the calculator, or quickly browsing the web while busy using another app simultaneously. Hopefully Sony will add an option to use more apps (including 3rd party ones) with this function.
Besides for the added functions with the update, the Sony Tablet S is also incredibly smooth. It may not be a quad-core packing, 2GB RAM beast, but it performs what it sets out to do and darn well. Sony have put their money where their mouth is with this tab and provided a great, glitch-free (so far) update. No issues with the OS on this one really!
- Incredible battery life
The Tablet S has an absolutely incredible battery life. I have gone for days without charging with moderate-heavy use. I have no idea how Sony have done it, but this tab has by far more juice than any other Android (or not Android for that matter) tablet around.
Sony’s flagship experiences very little lag and glitches. While some apps will take a while to load, the overall experience is very pleasant.
- Nice to place on a table
A common gripe I have with tablets is that you feel as though it is too precious/will scratch when placed on a hard surface. The Tablet S has no such issue – not because it is not a good device, but because it has nice little spikes on the back to keep it up.
- PlayStation Certified
- Sony’s apps add extra usability, yet do not slow device
- Notification light too dominating
Ever tried to sleep with a bright green light constantly flashing and brightening up your entire room? Neither had I – until now. The Tablet S’ notification light is too big for its own good and I often find myself doing one of two things – turning notifications off at sleep time, or waking up with last night’s t-shirt covering my tab.
- For this size there should be more inputs/outputs
- Confusing design for some
For people who don’t know this tab in particular, there are some first off issues with the design. Due to the ‘folded’ design, many people are inclined to think it is some sort of laptop. I’ve had many friends and colleagues try and open what cannot be opened, resulting in frustration and laughter.
Yay or Nay:
The tab is about 8 months old, verging on being classed as outdated. Until the recent Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update, we were on the border with this one. However, with the added functionality, smooth use and lovely design the Sony Tablet S still gets a Yay. You can grab the 16GB WiFi only version of the Tablet S from Sony’s online store for $429. The price-tag is a bit steep for the specs under the hood, but if you’re looking for an ergonomic device with incredible battery life – then you’ve just found it!