When Apple launched the iPad last summer, the tablet market was practically non-existent. Now, only little over a year later many brands have come out with one so called iPad killer after the other, none of which, designwise, deviate all that much from Apple’s slab of tech.
So why on earth, you might think, does Sony only now launch their idea of a tablet? Well, contrary to other brands, they gave it all a mighty good thought and have created one of the most original tablet designs I’ve seen out there. It runs a modified version of Android 3.2 Honeycomb, has a high quality 9.4 inch screen with TruBlack technology and an original “folded magazine” form factor, with which weight is perfectly distributed for holding the tablet with only one hand.
The 9.4 inch TruBlack makes the screen’s contrast great and colors pop, which makes it ideal for viewing pictures or video. By the end of the year Sony will also launch it’s unlimited music and video services. SABAM abiding, those services will make it a great tablet for you music and movie buffs out there, and places it very competitively against the iPad, taking up iTunes Match and Movie Rentals. Apple’s got the edge at this point when it comes to books, but Sony will be launching a “Reader Store” very soon. Right now, you can already install the Google Books App and view their ever growing catalogue.
The browsing experience on the S is brilliant. I might even dare to say that it’s a bit better than the iPad. Being really fast, combined with the “folded magazine” design makes it ideal for browsing the web from your couch. It supports flash, but you can see why Apple decided not to support it. Running flash games is fine, but when you’re browsing a page that’s filled with flash-based ads, the browsing experience tends to become a little poky.
When it comes to battery life, I must say I’m a little disappointed, even when all the location based services are turned off, the iPad trumps the Sony at standby time. Sometimes I’d put the S aside for a few days and found it completely depleted when I wanted to use it again
Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment
The Sony Tablet S is also the first tablet that’s PlayStation certified. Thanks to it’s Nvidia Tegra chip, it’s ideal for gaming. It ships with good old Crash Bandicoot (oh, the memories) and Pinball Heroes. It’s great to play these classics again, and there are more games to come, but I’d like to see some more recent game that really take that graphics processor to the limit.
The Tablet S integrates nicely with Sony’s line of TV’s, BluRay-players, Stereo’s, etc, allowing you to literally “throw” content (music or video) to your entertainment systems. Besides that the S also houses an IR sensor/transmitter to control any device you want.
All things considered, I don’t think I’ll be switching to Android any time soon, but I’m definitely going to keep the S around for where, IMO, it really shines … media consumption. If you’re a big movie or music buff and would like a device to control all your entertainment from, this is a tablet to seriously consider, especially if you’ve already invested in a Sony entertainment system.
Prices start at 479 euro (for the 16GB wifi model), there’s also a 32GB model (579 euro) and a 3G 16GB model at 599 euro, which puts it at exactly the same price points as the iPad 2. Check out the video below for a quick tour of the design and operating system.