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Sony Tablet S - Software and Interface

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly



Our Score:


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.


Sony Tablet S 9

Sony has tweaked much of the styling of the interface but it has managed to steer clear of ruining anything in the process.

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

The high resolution, and slightly smaller screen makes text look very sharp

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.


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.



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.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

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


September 1, 2011, 2:22 am

Guys, I hope you'll also be taking a look at Sony's new e-reader. No matter how good a display is, eInk is still far easier on the eyes when it comes to reading on it for extended periods.

David Gilbert

September 1, 2011, 2:55 am

We have managed to get our hands on the new e-reader and will be putting up a hands-on review very soon.


September 8, 2011, 6:59 am

Regarding the memory card, can you confirm that you can play videos and music from the memory card? I'm contemplating getting the 32GB or 16GB, but if I can play videos (films etc) direct from the memory card, then I think I'll go for the 16GB.


October 5, 2011, 6:04 pm

Erm, I think you managed to put in every pro and con into the Pros '+' category.

Rupert Hollom

October 5, 2011, 6:05 pm

Sony really need to take a leaf out of Amazon's book and price this table significantly lower than the competition and then make the money back on the unique content that they can provide. If they did that they would have a winner on their hands.


October 5, 2011, 8:03 pm

"The relentless advance of touchscreen technology has brought many advantages to the tech world" ... well ..., sorry, but i don't see any advance in touchscreens, just companies fooling customers and earning big money by giving them bad and lagging behind technology.


October 5, 2011, 8:39 pm

And the Barnes & Noble Simple Touch Reader too while your at it?


October 5, 2011, 9:04 pm

Good spot. Fixed now.


October 5, 2011, 9:06 pm

Advance OF touchscreens, not IN. Besides which, I'm not really sure quite what your issue is.


October 5, 2011, 10:10 pm

Chaps, no mention at all of the S's abilities as a universal remote. Surely one of it's most appealing/stand-out built in features? Plus, I'd really like to know (and can't seem to find out anywhere online) if the S can control a PS3 using it's remote software.


October 6, 2011, 6:33 am

Unfortunately we didn't have a room full of Sony equipment to try. Much as we'd love to horde vast collections of equipment, it gets returned after review.

We can confirm however that the Tablet S doesn't act as a huge PS3 remote. Though firmware updates to both in future may make this possible.


October 6, 2011, 6:35 am

As Ed mentions. I don't see your point. Other than the minimalist qualities it imposes on design, touchscreen technology has radically influenced technology for the better.

If you can't see that, we despair.


October 6, 2011, 9:21 am

I meant in touchscreens area. Anyway, english is not my native language, i don't even have any certificate, i learned it by myself.
My issue is that touchscreens today are garbage. It's pretty obvious that they influence technology, but not for the better. I wouldn't bet my life on them. They are completely unreliable.


October 6, 2011, 1:13 pm

I have had a look at these a couple of times and I cant help thinking that it both looks and feels cheap and nasty compared to other tablets.

Needs to be priced sub £200 to sell IMO.


October 6, 2011, 4:31 pm

>> My issue is that touchscreens today are garbage

Did they used to be better?. Or do you mean that Touchscreen's are worse than say a keyboard?, I personally think it depends on what your doing, eg. I'm a programmer and I can't see me ditching my keyboard & mouse for a while yet.


October 6, 2011, 7:00 pm

The whole point of a touchscreen centric device like a tablet or smartphone is that the entire OS and user interface have been designed for touchscreens from the ground up. All of the interface elements are designed with large, finger-friendly controls to make touchscreen interaction as easy as possible. In this way, any inaccuracy in operating the touchscreen has less of an effect on usability.

I'm not about to pretend that touchscreens will replace keyboards and mice everywhere. As Keith points out, keyboards will always dominate certain applications. However, the application of touchscreens to smartphones and tablets is now mature, well established and has proven benefit (as well as a few negatives).

Surely you're not suggesting that anyone who spends their money on such devices does so simply because they've been fooled by marketing propaganda? Or perhaps they're mindless drones who've given into their desire to fondle the latest shiny gadget? There are a fair few readers and contributors to this site who would disagree with that assessment.


October 8, 2011, 1:02 am

The great thing is you DON'T need Sony hardware.
We have a big screen LG TV, Onkyo surround sound and Humax Freesat HD recorder with an LG Blueray player...and this tablet handles them all with aplomb, including a sweep of the screen increasing volume... Oh, it will also dim the lights :-).

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