Sony Tablet S Lands in Singapore

Sony Tablet S - The First PlayStation Certified Tablet

S for Special 

To make up for its late entry into the tablet market, Sony knows that it has to differentiate its tablet offerings from the Honeycomb herd. Sony claims that the Tablet S (along with its sibling the Tablet P) represents the best of everything Sony has to offer from the hardware to software and services aspects. What makes the Sony Tablet S so special? We had our hands-on with the Sony Tablet S at the event this afternoon and here are our initial impressions:

Taisuke Nakanishi, Managing Director for Sony South East Asia was present at the event to unveil the Sony Tablet S.

Singapore is the first country in Asia to have the market launch of the Sony Tablet S.

 

One-of-A-Kind Design 

Sony redefines the way we hold a tablet by giving the Tablet S an asymmetrical form factor - a tapered design that takes after the curve of a folded-back magazine. The company claims that it is an ergonomic design that shifts the weight of the tablet closer to your palm, making it feel lighter (though in reality, it weighs 598g) and more comfortable to handle.

The Sony Tablet S stands out from the crowd of Honeycomb tablets with its asymmetric design.

During our hands-on with the Tablet S, we found Sony's claims to be valid. The device felt very comfortable to hold as the thicker side provides a very comfortable grip with its curved edges and dotted texture. Sony took a bet with this unconventional design and we felt it paid off pretty well. In addition, the Tablet S has a slight incline when you place it on a flat surface, making it easier and more natural to type and view content.

By having the screen sloped at an angle when placed onto a flat surface, it makes typing easier and more comfortable.

The Sony Tablet S has a 9.4-inch display, which is slightly smaller than Apple's iPad 2 and its 9.7-inch or the wide range of 10.1-inch Android Honeycomb tablets. Although the screen resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels is similar to its Honeycomb counterparts, Sony leverages on its BRAVIA TruBlack technology to give the Tablet S a competitive edge. It is supposed to reduce reflection and glare from sunlight or fluorescent light for high-contrast visibility in outdoors and indoors environments.

Backed by Sony's BRAVIA TruBlack technology, the 9.4-inch LED-baclkit IPS screen of the Sony Tablet S impressed us with its clarity and visibility across a wide range of viewing angles.

We were duly impressed with the vibrant and warm colors returned by the display on the Tablet S. Text looked crisp and sharp on the display too. The display also provided generous viewing angles. In fact, the viewing experience is one of the best we have seen so far. However, the screen is a magnet for fingerprints and smudges. Reflection is still an issue although it is common among tablets today.

Athough the body of the Tablet S is mainly made up of textured plastics, it does not look cheap. On the contrary, it looks like a beautifully crafted device with the premium look that Sony devices are well-known for.

On the left of the Sony Tablet S, you will find the 3.5mm audio jack and a cover protecting the microUSB port and a SD memory card slot.

The Power button, volume controls and reset button are found on the right side of the device.

You can find the power jack at the bottom left side of the Sony Tablet S.

The Sony Tablet S has a textured back, which helps in having a better grip of the device. However, the matte surface is also a fingerprint magnet. You can also find a 5-megapixel camera that is powered by Exmor for Mobile at the top middle section.

Android 3.2 - the Sony Style 

It is good to see the Sony Tablet S shipping with Google's tablet-centric Android 3.2 Honeycomb. Although Android 3.2 is more relevant for 7-inch tablets with the compatibility zoom mode, we feel that it adds a bonus point for the Tablet S when consumers consider their options. Sony has left the Android user interface largely untouched except for a few minor additions. 

The Sony Tablet S is one of the few Android tablets in the market that runs Honeycomb 3.2 OS out of the box.

On the top left hand corner, you will see four shortcuts ( Browser, Mail, Remote Control and Reader).

We particularly like the Favorites tab. It is basically a shortcut page with nine tiles on the right and a preview window on the left.

You can customize the nine tiles in the Favorites Tab by choosing items from the Social Feed Reader, Browser, PlayStation Gamesa, Video Player and Music.

Similar to HTC Friend Stream and Samsung Social Hub, Sony has its own Social Feed Reader, which centralizes the social feeds from Facebook and Twitter in one location.

The Sony Tablet S is the first series of PlayStation-certified tablets where you can play original PlayStation games. Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Heroes are preinstalled on the tablet.

Another unique feature of the Sony Tablet S is the built-in infrared sensor. This enables the tablet to function as a remote control for a wide range of devices including TVs and stereos.

Sony markets the Tablet S with true cross-device connectivity that wirelessly connects to DLNA compatible devices such as Sony BRAVIA TVs.

Connecting the Sony Tablet S to DLNA devices is as simple as dragging the multimedia file to the device icon on your tablet.

Sony also refined the camera interface on the Tablet S. It looks cleaner and less cluttered compared to the stock camera interface.

It appears that Sony has swapped the stock Honeycomb keyboard with its own. During our hands-on, we had no problems typing on the tablet.

Accessories 

Sony also provides a range of optional accessories for the Tablet S. They will be available for purchase together with the Tablet S.

Seen here are the cradle and Bluetooth keyboard for the Sony Tablet S. Prices for these accessories are unavailable at the moment.

Given its plastic build and attraction to fingerprints, it is advisable to get one of these cases to protect your Tablet S.

This folding case strikes a close resemblance to the Apple iPad 2 Smart Cover albeit not as stylish and "smart".

Closing Thoughts and Availability

The Sony Tablet S comes across as a refreshing Android tablet. Its asymmetrical design alone is sufficient to differentiate itself from the rest. It not only stands out in terms of design, it is also functional in terms of providing a rather comfortable grip and handling.

While it comes with an unusual screen size of 9.4-inches, we had no problems using the Sony Tablet S. Sony also backs the tablet with its renowned BRAVIA TruBlack technology to make the viewing experience an exceptionally pleasant one. 

The support for PlayStation games will more likely appeal to those who demand a better gaming experience on their tablets. However, the Sony Tablet S is limited to two pre-installed games at the moment and there is no specific time line given as to when more games will be available. 

The Sony Tablet S will be available in stores from end October 2011 onwards. It will come in 16GB and 32GB versions which is priced at S$668 and S$798 respectively. According to Sony, the company plans to introduce the 3G version in Singapore, though its availability and pricing hasn't been finalized just yet.

Sony Tablet S

  Key highlights of the Sony Tablet S

  • Google Android 3.2 Honeycomb OS
  • 9.4-inch BRAVIA TruBlack TFT LCD  / 1280 x 800 pixels 
  • NVIDIA Tegra 2 1.0 GHz dual-core processor
  • 1GB of RAM, 16GB / 32GB
  • Wi-Fi 802.11/b/g/n
  • First PlayStation-certified tablet 
  • 5-megapixel rear camera, 0.3-megapixel front camera
  • Accelerometer
  • Digital Compass
  • Ambient Sensor
  • SD memory slot
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 598g
  • 241.2 x 174.3 x 20.6 mm (thinnest at 10.1mm)
     
  • Available for preorder from 30 September 2011
  • Available in stores from end-October 2011
  • Available in 16GB (S$668) and 32GB (S$798)