What has Sony's research and development team been beavering away on in no so hushed silence for a couple of years? Only the best and most uniquely designed Android tablet you can buy
It’s taken two years for Sony to enter the tablet market, and in that time every manufacturer and their budget Taiwanese spin-off have colluded to fill the tablet market with dross. The Sony Tablet S is the Japanese company’s attempt to break the mould- and on the surface, that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Sony Tablet S: Build
The Sony Tablet S is a curvaceous, wedge-shaped tablet, which looks as if it has been folded out of a single piece of textured black plastic. The design means typing is comfortable when laid flat on a table and desk, which is a flaw in most flat tablet. The book-like design makes it easy to grip with one hand, making it perfect for browsing the web or reading ebooks.
It wouldn’t be a Sony if there wasn’t one annoying proprietary connection, and don’t expect to find someone else with the strange fork shaped charger when you run out of juice. What’s more, it feels extremely loose when plugged in, which with the plasticky cover to the SD slot, is a second example of a gulf in quality that we expect from Sony.
Sony Tablet S: OS
The Tablet S has Android 3.2, which offers access to the Android Marketplace with its selection of 300,000 apps. While Honeycomb has emerged as the clear alternative to iOS, we still feel that it has a long way to go to match the slickness and quality of apps offered by Apple.
Sony has remedied this somewhat by packing the S Tablet with tonnes of software, which makes this offering stand out from the crowd. The tablet is PlayStation certified, which means there’s a host of old PS1 titles to play, with an on screen controller.
Sony S Tablet: Screen
The 9.4” screen is slightly smaller than the average 10” tablet, but the colours are vibrant, and the 1200x800 resolution makes the screen pin sharp. While Sony has done well to make the form stand out from its peers, the inside is a standard affair.
Sony Tablet S: Features
The Tablet S weighs just 600g, which makes it identical to the iPad 2. There’s a plastic finish which doesn’t feel cheap, and has a textured back which offers grip for your hand. Sony has included front and rear cameras, with 5MP on the back and 0.3 on the front. Picture and video quality is grainy, though focusing was excellent and quickly processed.
There’s a Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of memory and we ran apps, and watched YouTube HD content without any sign of slowdown. Performance was an issue when rendering certain websites which caused strange half page displays and juddery scrolling. One of the worst offenders was Sony’s own app store, which was extremely frustrating to use.
Sony Tablet S: Battery
Battery life was decent, with the tablet achieving approximately 6 hours of sustained video watching and gaming, and around 30 hours of light coffee table browsing with plenty of time on standby, meaning you won’t be reaching for the charger every time you want to check the T3 web site.
Sony Tablet S: Verdict
If you’re choosing an Android device, then the Sony Tablet S is a clear front runner. There’s a lot here to make it stand out, even over quality competition from the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 and forthcoming Galaxy 7.7. In a straight fight with the iPad 2, however, Android still falls short, but Sony should be commended for taking its time to make a considered entry to the tablet fight.
Sony Tablet S availabilty: Out now
Sony Tablet S price: £399