Sony Tablet S Android Slate Review

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Fans of Google's Android platform are proving to be a patient lot. It hasn't been easy pulling for Android in the tablet space, which for a period of time was limited to a few overpriced and underwhelming Gingerbread slates. Things began to change when Honeycomb came out, the first version of Android designed specifically for tablets, but even then it started to feel like if you've seen one Android tablet, you've seen them all. Lately we've found ourselves asking, 'Where's all the innovation that's supposed to be associated with an open source platform, and with so many different manufacturers concentrating on Android, where's the outside-the-box mentality?" Apparently over at Sony, that's where.

Sony's Tablet S looks different than any other Android tablet you've seen before. It feels different, too. Breaking away from the cookie cutter form factor employed by everyone else, Sony took a chance on a unique design intended to mimic what it feels like to hold a folded back magazine. More than a gimmick, Sony says this custom form factor shifts the device's weight closer to your palm, making it feel lighter and more comfortable while you read an eBook or watch a Netflix video. It also allows the tablet to sit slightly raised on a table, providing a more natural angle for typing, a task that's historically been poorly replicated on tablets with on-screen keyboards.



Kudos to Sony for trying something new and different instead of releasing another "me-too" tablet, but is a wedge-shaped design enough to stand out in an increasingly crowded Android market? We're going to tackle that question on the following pages.  That said, this is a $500 tablet that's slightly smaller than the iPad, though significantly larger than Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet, a pair of low(er)-cost slates that are finding their way into millions of homes. Where does the Sony Tablet S stand in relation to these devices? We'll try to size that up for you as well here.

Sony Tablet S Specifications
Android 3.2.1 "Honeycomb"
  • Android 3.2.1 "Honeycomb"
  • Nvidia Tegra 2 processor (dual-core, 1GHz)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 16GB or 32GB internal storage
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • 9.4-inch display
  • 1280x800 resolution
  • Capacitive multi-touch
  • 0.3MP front-facing camera
  • 5MP rear-facing camera
  • Full-size SD card slot
  • MicroUSB x 1
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Non-replaceable 5000mAh battery
  • Up to 8 hours
  • IR remote control function
 
  • 9.5 (L) x 6.8 (W) x 0.3 (D) inches
  • 1lb. 5oz
  • $500 (16GB); $600 (32GB)


The Sony Tablet S may look like a magazine or an oversized paperback book, but unlike the Kindle Fire, there's no question whether this is a glorified eBook reader or a dedicated tablet. It's clearly the latter, as evidenced by the 9.4-inch display, Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, built-in cameras, and the various input and expansion slots.

All of this comes wrapped in Honeycomb (Android 3.2.1), though hopefully Sony will unwrap an Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) update in the not-too-distant future.


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