Sony Tablet brings something different to Android tablets

Sony may be good at design but it has to work on its product-naming skills. I mean, calling a tablet “Tablet S,” who thought that was a good idea? Undoubtedly Sony has too many of those guys as the company made a net loss of $2 billion in fiscal Q3 2011. But this is not an article about Sony’s financial woes; it’s about its latest tablet.

By Magnus Nystedt (PRODUCT REVIEW)

Published: Sun 12 Feb 2012, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 1:52 AM

Sony arrived late to tablets, but it is bringing something different to the long line of Android tablets in the market. The Tablet S is arguably the nicest looking Google Android Honeycomb tablet I’ve used. What catches my eye right away is the wedge-shaped design, supposedly so even when laying flat on a table, the display will tilt slightly towards you, for easier viewing. Sony also says it’s supposed to mimic the shape of a folded-up magazine, which it may do. Whether you like that shape or not may be a matter of taste, but it definitely makes the 9.4-inch tablet very nice to hold with one hand.

On the left side, you find a 3.5 mm headphone jack, as well as a peel-away cover, which harbours a microUSB connection, and SD card slot. On the right side, you find power and volume controls.

Having a full-size SD card slot is great, especially if you have a digital camera with that type of card. But Sony has decided that you can’t access files off of the card directly, you have to import it first. There’s also a 5-megapixel camera on the back and a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front.

I question Sony’s work with putting Android 3.1 on the Tablet S. There’s a lot of Sony modifications and additions on top of Android, which I typically don’t like, and it’s the same here. The user should, at the very least, be able to select what runs and what does not. But besides that, a bigger problem is the web browser, which is slow and crashes a lot. The crashing also seems related to drops in Wi-Fi connection.

Sony claims that the web browser on the Tablet S loads pages faster than other tablets but I didn’t see much evidence of that. When it worked, between crashing, it generally didn’t render pages as accurately as Mobile Safari on iPad, meaning a big let down, since browsing is such an important part of using a tablet.

This is the first so called PlayStation tablet and the one I tested had Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Heroes on it. Sony says there will be more games coming eventually but I could not find any at this time. Another sign that the Tablet S can be a good companion in a Sony system is that it has an infrared emitter. With this you can, among other things, use it as a remote control for your TV and other devices.

The Sony Tablet S with Wi-Fi and 16 GB storage sells for about Dh1,800. It looks good and full SD card slot may be important for some. In addition, it can be the hub in a Sony entertainment system. But if those things were not of particular interest, I’d look at other tablets.

Magnus Nystedt, @mnystedt

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