Sony Tablet S review

Sony has designed its first Android tablet for living room entertainment, so does it have any role in the workplace? Seth Barton finds out in our review.

Oddly for a tablet from a consumer electronics giant like Sony, the Tablet S doesn't have any way of connecting physically to a TV or projector.

Oddly for a tablet from a consumer electronics giant like Sony, the Tablet S doesn't have any way of connecting physically to a TV or projector. This is unlike most other tablets and will make the Tablet S less attractive if you need to give presentations regularly. There is one way of connecting the Tablet S to a display though streaming videos or photos wirelessly to a UPnP/DLNA media receiver using an included app. Although this is sufficient for living room use, it's not quite good enough for use in the workplace where such receivers won't always be available but a cabled connection will be.

The Tablet S comes with Android 3.1 installed, which improves over the original version in numerous small ways. The user interface feels more responsive for one, and there's better support for USB peripherals such as external keyboards and mice. A 3.2 upgrade is already on offer, but beyond better SD card support it's a largely incremental, minor update. For comparison the Tab 10.1 has a 3.1 update available from its original 3.0 and so functions practically identically.

One useful change to the OS is Sony's superior app screen. Here you can drag-and-drop apps into any position you want and then separate these using equally easy-to-position dividers. These can then be named, so you partition off your apps into folder-like sections. Sony has done little else to the operating system, unless your business will thrive on the rather neat media streaming application or the ability to playing ageing PlayStation games.

It's no surprise to find an Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset at the heart of the Tablet S. Its dual-core processor runs at the usual 1GHz and it produced a score of 2,160ms in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark. This is only 6ms off the score of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 well within statistical variation.

So what's our verdict?

Verdict

The Tablet S has some commendable features, most obviously its rather avant-garde yet eminently practical shape. The lack of video output and a less-than stellar screen will be concerns for some, but the reasonably long battery life compensates for this to a large extent. While the iPad 2 lacks the USB port and unusual shape it has the advantage of far longer battery life and a wider selection of apps. Unless you think you may have trouble holding onto the iPad's super-slinky shape, the Tablet S isn't quite cut out as a business device. The upcoming Tablet P, with its dual fold-out displays, looks a more intriguing option for those working on the move.

Connectivity: N/A Display: 1,280 x 800 pixels, 9.4in OS: Android 3.2 Honeycomb Camera: five megapixels rear-facing, 0.3 megapixels forward-facing GPS: non-assisted GPS Processor: 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 RAM: 1GB Bluetooth: v2.1 + EDR Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n Storage: 16GB internal Ports: 1 x micro USB2, 1 x audio out Slots: 1 x SDHC Dimensions: 241 x 174 x 10 mm (WxDxH) Weight: 600g Battery: Lithium Ion 4,400mAh Part code: SGPT111GB Battery life: 9h48m

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