Sony Tablet S - Software and Interface

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Boot up the Sony Tablet S and you’ll immediately see ‘Music Unlimited’ and

‘Video Unlimited’ icons on the homescreen. These are links to audio and

video portals specially customised for the Tablet S within Sony’s

Qriocity download and streaming service. Here Sony pulls together the

vast library of its Sony Music and Sony Pictures content and Tablet S

owners will get six months free access. In something of an own goal Sony

hasn’t got these services running fully in time for the Tablet S’s

launch (just five movies are ready and Music Unlimited is listed as

‘arriving soon’), but once active it should be an attractive option to

potential customers and you can bet Sony will offer plenty of

exclusives.
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Sony Tablet S 9
(centre)Sony has tweaked much of the styling of the interface but it has managed to steer clear of ruining anything in the process.(/centre)

For

gamers the Tablet S gets the same PlayStation certification as the

Xperia Play making it compatible with Sony’s official PSOne and PSP

Android Marketplace ports, of which there are admittedly rather few at

the moment. The Tablet S lacks the physical controls of the Play, but

its added horsepower ensures all titles run smoothly and Sony has

pre-installed Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Heroes to whet the appetite.

What’s more, the large screens of tablets makes them that much more

conducive to using onscreen controls – proportionately less screen space

is taken up by them. 

Sony Tablet S 1
(centre)The high resolution, and slightly smaller screen makes text look very sharp(/centre)

For camera enthusiasts Sony has called on

its camera prowess too and the 5MP shooter on the Tablet S is the best

we’ve experience on a tablet to date. In automatic the camera takes

pictures with greater vibrancy than the typically washed out images

we’ve seen from the

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook while it obviously mops the floor with the

inadequate 0.7MP rear camera on the iPad 2. For more hands-on

photographers Sony has also provided a reasonable level of control with

dual macro and manual exposure options as well as an array of preset

scene modes. Of course, there’s still the issue of why you’d want a

particularly fancy camera on a tablet but at least the option’s there on

this one.
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Sony

has done a good job with battery life too. Android is notoriously power

hungry and while the Tablet S’s claimed eight hours is less than the

Galaxy Tab 10.1’s nine we found it will last over six hours with heavy

usage, superior to the 10.1’s five hours . This still doesn’t hold up to

the iPad 2’s quoted 10 hours though (we found it lasts close to this

claim) and the Tablet S battery charge time of five hours is excessive.

Meanwhile pricing is on a par with its rivals (£399 16GB, £479 32GB,

£499 16GB 3G) offering reasonable value for money, at least technically.

However, there’s still that niggling feeling that any tablet rival

really needs to be undercutting the iPad if it’s to gain traction, as

Apple’s device simply offers the most complete tablet experience thanks

to its vast app support. Then again, if anyone can muscle their way into

this market, it’s Sony, with its trifecta of music, video and game

content to draw upon.
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”’Verdict”’
Sony

has taken its time to enter the tablet race and the Tablet S shows the

company has learnt from many of the mistakes made by its rivals and

worked hard to integrate worthwhile differentiators. This effort is

largely successful and while PlayStation conversions and Sony’s Music

and Video Unlimited services are only in their infancy these should bear

substantial fruit in time.

Certainly the Tablet S isn’t without

its faults. Connectivity options feel different largely for the sake of

it and Sony still can’t resist dipping into proprietary ports, but the

practical wedge styling should attract a loyal following – especially as

it carries no weight penalty. Some may take issue at the slightly

reduced screen size, but battery life possibly benefits from the choice

of a 9.4in display and the added pixel density makes it easy on the

eyes. For those who want a tablet which stands out from the pack the

Tablet S will prove a sound investment.

Score in detail

  • Performance 8
  • Value 7
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Battery Life 8

Other

Processor Nvidia tegra 2

Display

Operating System Android
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