A unique design, made for tablets operating system and PlayStation certification, all this is more than enough to spark curiosity in anyone’ mind for Sony Tablet S. Although Sony was a very late entrant in the tablet market internationally as well as in India, Tablet S clearly shows that a lot of work has gone into it. Company’s Indian arm recently launched this tablet in the country along with its dual-display cousin Tablet P, which we are yet to get our hands on for a significant amount of time.
Priced at INR 29,990, Tablet S Wi-Fi is more familiar looking and is clearly targeted to premium tablet buyers. With Tegra 2 power inside and Android 3.2.1 on-board, there is no doubt about the tablet on-paper, but in this review we will look at how this tablet turned out to be in the day-to-day environment.
Sony Tablet S Specifications:
- NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz Dual-Core
- 1GB RAM
- 16GB Internal Storage
- WiFi (b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, IR
- Android 3.2.1
- Face focus VGA camera (front)
- 5.0 MP camera (rear)
- 9.4 inch (1280×800) capacitive touchscreen
- 5000mAh Li-Ion Battery
- USB (Micro A/B), Stereo 3.5 mini jack, Monaural MIC enabled
It is clear at the first look, that Tablet S is very different from the ocean of tablets out there. Its folded book kind of design is in a stark contrast with prevalent rectangular tablets in the market. Tablet S is in no way light or even thin, but its wedge shaped design makes it easier to grab the tablet with one hand in portrait or both hands in landscape mode. It also makes to easier to type paragraphs of text when laid back on a table because of the natural slant in its shape.
Coming to ports and buttons, you get the usual micro-USB port, SD-card slot on one side of tablet with solid plastic covering along with 3.5mm headset jack and on the other side you will find the volume rocker, power button and reset button. As all ports and buttons are present in the shallow crevice along the sides, you might find them a little annoying at first but with prolonged usage, they start feeling normal.Tablet S comes also with a dedicated charging port (and a laptop kind of big charger), so your microUSB port is free to do other stuff when you are charging the tablet. The stereo speakers have been placed in shallow crevice, one on each side and I actually find that placing nice because it gives speaker space to let out the sound and they do not easily get blocked unless you are using the tablet while sitting in a quilt (Delhi winters 😛 ).
As a whole, Tablet S is all plastic and shiny but still looks neat, no cheap product feeling. One part that I did not like about the hardware of Tablet S is that the screen seems to love all the smudges and dust. Even the textured back is magnetic to fingerprints.
The 9.4 inch display in Tablet S is also different from rest of the crowd. When other manufactures are busy churning out 10.1 inch tablets, Sony has gone for a slightly smaller display but with the standard tablet resolution of 1280X800p. Company has used its well-known TruBlack technology in the tablet, which mitigates glare and increases sharpness and contrast, in turn giving us a great display. Though, if you want to use the tablet in direct sun-light, you will be disappointed. When we tried to use it in sun, there wasn’t enough visibility even with full brightness.
Sony Tablet S comes with Android 3.2.1 on-board in India, or if you are one of the very early adopters you would have got Android 3.2 on your tablet (update has been rolling out for quite some time now). Being the last Honeycomb release Android 3.2.1 is fairly free of bugs and stability issues, which marred the initial 3.0 tablets like Motorola Xoom.
Sony has also includes several interface tweaks in order to make it more user-friendly but it stopped short of revamping the whole Android stock look, so you will see tweaks here and there but the Android soul remains. Changes are present mainly in home-screen, app-drawer and then there are custom apps for Gallery, Music Player and Video Player. These custom apps help in better integration of DLNA, so with just one tap; you can stream your content on the connected TV, or other devices.
Sony has tried to fill in the gap created by the absence of missing Audio and Video Unlimited services in the India market with several custom-made apps and as well as by loading a few known local content apps. Some of these factory-installed apps are Videochaska (Sony TV shows), Meragaana, Star Player (Star TV shows), Bollywood Hungama and BigFlix (movies, music videos, trailors).
Being the PlayStation certified tablet, you get the chance to play PS games on the tablet (supported games library is still growing) and for the out of the box experience Crash Bandicoot and PinBall Heroes have been pre-installed. One of the very useful parts of the tablet is the built-in IR blaster clubbed with the remote app, so if you have your tablet next to you, no need to run around finding the remote of your TV, DTH Box or any other home entertainment device.
So, how was the overall performance of Sony Tablet S? Well, I must say that it was more than what expected. As we all know Honeycomb was an unfinished product rushed the market to capitalize emerging tablet market, but with the time and subsequent releases, it has turn out to be quite well. I would not have said the same thing with Xoom or Iconia Tab A500 (when running on Android 3.0 or 3.1), but Tablet S running on Android 3.2.1 is much stable and very smooth in daily usage. Due to dual core Tegra 2 processor and GeForce GPU on-board, there is no lag in graphic intensive games or applications.
Benchmark Results: (each test has been run three times)
- Quadrant Standard: 1451/1588/1477
- Vellamo: 1002/1036/1047
- GLbenchmark 2.1 Egypt Standard: 17.6/17.4/17.6 Fps
Battery life is another issue on Sony Tablet S, but then that is an issue with most of Android devices. We got around 7hours of backup with heavy usage and surprisingly Tablet S eats a lot of battery during sleep. Tablet S takes over 3.15 hours to get fully charged. It shows that how we are in dire need of innovation in batteries, when we are getting so much innovation in other aspects of the devices, nobody seems to be caring about batteries.
Camera, Wi-Fi performance:
Sony Tablet S comes with 5MP rear camera, and VGA front camera. Rear camera gives decent performance but the absence of LED flash is certainly annoying, but then I don’t use tablets to take snaps and I am sure most of you won’t use them either. It is the front camera performance that matter the most because you will be using it for video chatting and all, which is certainly a step up from other tablets in the market in Tablet S.
Wi-Fi performance is solid and we never had any issues what so-ever with our review unit.
Although a bit late, Sony has come with a competent tablet. With high-end specifications, unique design, decent software and array of content offerings, Sony Tablet S is certainly a tablet to look for. With ICS already promised, you have a secure future in terms of software updates. Company has priced it at the standard INR 29,990 price for 16GB Wi-Fi only model, which is in-line with most of other tablets, but we would have loved to see Sony getting a little aggressive on the pricing front to take on the competitors.