Sony Xperia Tablet S and Sony Xperia Go hands-on
Last Friday, I had the chance to visit the Sony offices in North Ryde to see a hands-on demo of several of the new products Sony announced at IFA in Berlin last week. Unfortunately, the flagship Sony Xperia T was not in presence when I visited, but I got a chance to examine the new Xperia Tablet S and the just-launched Xperia Go smartphone. Read on for further details and pictures!
The Sony Xperia Tablet S, a 10.1″ Tegra 3 slate, is the successor to the previous Tablet S with the folded-book design. The design is refined in the new model, with a flatter shape that still feels natural in the hand. The Sony rep pointed out the more textured surface and carbon-fibre construction on the back of the tablet, presumably to improve the user’s grip and the device feel; indeed, the Xperia Tablet S feels much more like a premium product when compared side-by-side with the superseded Tablet S. Screen wise, although the Xperia Tablet S still has the same 1280×800 resolution as the old Tablet S, the display panel seems to be of better quality – the display looks to be slightly less grainy, and viewing angles are a definite improvement. The screen doesn’t hold a candle to the new iPad screen or the one in the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, but is still tablet worthy, and better than other tablets I’ve seen with the same resolution like the Galaxy Note 10.1.
In terms of software, the Xperia Tablet S is running Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4, presumably with an upgrade to Jelly Bean some time in the future. The interface and applications seemed much faster to use over the original Tablet S, which is to be expected with the Tegra 2 to Tegra 3 upgrade and software optimisations. An interesting feature added by Sony is the “Guest Mode” located in the top-right of the homescreen; it allows a user to control the applications and settings available to a guest user while locking down everything else. This feature seems to be a useful addition for parents who may share their tablet with their children (though if web browsers are available, Guest Mode does not perform any internet filtering on them), or letting a friend play games without reading your email.
A couple of accessories were also shown off to accompany the Xperia Tablet S: a neat stand with HDMI out and charging port – though strangely no dedicated audio out; and a keyboard case in the style of the Touch Cover that will be released with the Microsoft Surface tablets. Typing on the keyboard cover was strange, especially with no key travel or other feedback to work with, so it may take some time to get used to. Normal covers are also being provided by Sony in a range of colours.
I also had a quick look at the Sony Xperia Go, a 3.5″ waterproof phone running Gingerbread. Each port features an O-ring sealed door, similar to the Motorola Defy, and the screen is Gorilla Glass, protecting against scratches and light drops. I’m a big fan of the Xperia Go; while the software definitely shows its age and the processor isn’t a quad-core powerhouse, the impression was of a solid device that would be great as a secondary phone, or a phone to purchase for the kids.
(While I was there, I also got the chance to take a look at Sony’s GoPro competitor, the Sony Action Cam; and the Sony NEX-5R, a WiFi-enabled mirrorless camera with the capability of running first-party apps. Both cameras have companion apps for Android 2.3 and above that allow viewfinder and capture directly from the phone. The Sony 84″ 4K TV was also in attendance, which was very impressive too.)
While exact pricing and availability in Australia hasn’t been announced for the Xperia Tablet S, the Xperia Go is available now from Optus (and available from Allphones outright for $348 as well, according to their latest brochure). We’ll keep an eye out for more info and keep you informed when we know more details about when the Xperia Tablet S goes on sale!