By JENNIFER NG
Sony breaks away from the mould with its latest Android Tablet.
IF YOU you are looking for an Android Tablet that lets you browse the Internet, read electronic books and magazines, manage Word documents or Excel reports, you might want to check out the Sony Tablet S.
You will also be pleasantly surprised by other multimedia features that Sony has thoughtfully packed into this WiFi-only 9.4in Tablet.
The Tablet's wedge-shaped design sets itself apart from the rest of the offerings that are generally flat and are modelled after the iPad.
Ergonomically designed, the Tablet feels comfortable to hold and seems lighter than it actually is. You will learn this when you hold the device with one hand, on the thicker side.
Look and feel
Besides looking different on the outside, Sony has customised the Android Honeycomb interface by having a white background for the app menu and redesigning the icons.
This gives the interface a different twist and makes using this Tablet more pleasurable. With Sony, it's the little things that matter.
The Tablet S' touchscreen performance is also pretty good and you get smooth animation when navigating through the menus. However, when it comes to the pinch-to-zoom action, there is noticeable jerkiness.
Game enthusiasts would be happy to note that the Tablet S runs a whole suite of Sony certified PlayStation games. This means you can load PlayStation games just as you would on the Xperia Play smartphone.
Hardware and design
Although some may find it ugly, we like Sony's bold attempt to set itself apart from the rest by coming up with an ergonomically designed Tablet.
The Tablet is thicker on one side, with a rounded edge. When placed flat on the table, it is slightly angled and this makes typing on it easier - all this without the need for an expensive cover.
We also like the textured back which coupled with the thicker side, gives you a firmer grip on the device.
All in all, the Tablet feels lighter and less slippery. You don't feel as if you could easily drop it by accident.
As if all these features are not enough, Sony includes a wrist strap which you could attach to the Tablet.
The start and volume buttons are on the right side of the Tablet, while on the left, there is a flap that hides the input-output slots.
What we like about this Tablet is that Sony includes a micro USB port and SD card slot. You can easily transfer photos and files via the File Transfer app in the applications menu. Now, this is definitely a plus point.
We are quite happy with Sony's choice of preloaded apps. On the main screen, you will see six large icons that launch Music Player, Video Player, Gallery, Social Feed Reader, Remote Control and SelectApp.
Sony's selling point is that the preinstalled Remote Control lets you easily operate your home electronics (such as a Blu-ray/DVD Player or HDTV) via your Tablet.
Sony claims that the Tablet S is the only Honeycomb Android with built-in universal infrared remote control.
Registering each electrical device is a breeze, however there are limitations to the amount of control you have on each.
SelectApp will launch Sony's webstore. This webstore recommends useful apps for your Tablet. For instance, you can download Foursquare to help you explore the world around you, Zinio for reading glossy magazines on your Tablet (you need to pay for most of these digital magazines though) and Documents To Go to view Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files.
The Tablet S has a 9.4in screen with 1280 x 800-pixels resolution. The display is crisp, clear and produces excellent colours.
Although not boasting retina-display quality, we found it most satisfactory, maybe because Sony paid quite a bit of attention to tweaking the interface. The tasteful interface makes the entire viewing experience pleasant.
The Tablet S is powered by a dual-core nVidia Tegra 2 1GHz processor. Although the Tablet handles demanding graphics applications such as HD videos and games well, on the whole, we found it rather sluggish.
We have no complaints on battery life as the Tablet is able to sustain normal use for up to eight hours or more. This is on par with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 but will not outlast the iPad 2.
The Tablet also comes with an 5-megapixel rear camera and a 0.3-megapixel front facing camera. We noticed that the rear camera takes pretty good photos and this is definitely a plus for those who like to quickly capture and share images via social media apps with a Tablet.
Why would you pick up Sony's Tablet S instead of the iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1? On the whole, the Tablet is a very consumer-friendly device.
You'd get it because you like how different it looks and how comfortable it feels in your hands. Plus, it also comes with a full-size SD card slot built in so you won't need any adaptors to transfer data.
The universal remote control which is unique to the Sony Tablet S is another factor you should consider if you are in the market for an Android Tablet.
Pros: Lightweight and easy to hold; SD card slot and Micro USB for easy file transfer.
Cons: A bit laggy.
Android Tablet computer
CAMERA: 5-megapixel (rear), VGA (front)
PROCESSOR: nVidia dual-core Tegra 2 (1GHz)
EXPANSION: SD slot
WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY: WiFi (b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, IR
PLATFORM: Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)
DISPLAY: 9.4in (1,280 x 800-pixels) touchscreen
BATTERY: Li-ion 5,000mAh
CONNECTIVITY: Micro USB, headphone jack
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D): 241.2 x 174.3 x 10.1mm
PRICE: RM1,499 (16GB), RM1,799 (32GB)
Review unit courtesy of Sony, 1-800-88-9900