The tablet category was one of the few frontiers that Sony had no presence until recently when the company launched its assault with two tablets, the Tablet S and the Tablet P. While the Tablet P is expected to arrive in Q1 2012, we already had our hands-on with the Tablet S (Wi-Fi model) during its media launch two weeks ago. We got to say the Tablet S impressed us in our initial trials.
Frankly, we have seen quite a number of Honeycomb tablets from different brands the past few months, and saw for ourselves how each tablet attempted to stand out from the rest. Most brands try to compete in terms of dimensions, services, apps and accessories. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 prides itself on being the lightest and slimmest tablet in the 10-inch category. The Acer Iconia Tab A500 features the clear.fi. system to help you organize and share media among different devices in your home network. The Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet K1 comes with more than 30 preloaded apps. The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer has an optional keyboard docking station that boosts battery life up to 16 hours. What does the Sony Tablet S (Wi-Fi model) has in its arsenal to strike back at its competitors? Let's start with its design:-
The first thing about the Sony Tablet S that grabs your attention is the asymmetrical form factor. Sony creatively designs the Tablet S with a tapered form factor that looks like the curve of a magazine folded back. The thicker side has a nice round edge with a dotted texture to provide an assuring grip. Having said that, the Sony Tablet S is meant to held with one hand (in portrait mode).
The drawback of such a design is that the Tablet S measures 20.6mm at its thickest point while it tapers to 10.1mm thin on the other end. When compared to the 8.6mm thin Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Sony Tablet S may seem to be a thick gadget to lug around. Fortunately, the ergonomic design of the Tablet S helps shift the weight of the device (598g) closer to your palm, making it feel lighter and easier to handle. In terms of handling, the Sony Tablet S is among the best we have come across so far.
Dominating the front of the Tablet S is the 9.4-inch display, which is a tad smaller than the 9.7-inch display on the Apple iPad 2. According to Sony, the display is backed by the renowned BRAVIA TruBlack technology which minimizes glare and reflections from sunlight or flouorescent light. It also provides high contrast and visibility for usage in both indoor and outdoor environments. Nonetheless, the Tablet S still suffers from a common problem of tablets - a glossy display. It attracts fingerprints and smudges very easily. It is also too glossy for our liking as we still could see reflections on the display.
You may be surprised by the lack of a HDMI port on the Sony Tablet S. Being the tech giant, Sony has made the Tablet S DLNA-ready which means that it can wirelessly connect to DLNA compatible devices such as home theater systems, laptops and televisions without the hassle of wires. The Sony Tablet S also has a built-in infrared sensor, which it utilizes effectively to control a variety of AV devices (like a remote control) by means of supplied app.