Finally a tablet from Sony, I have been waiting patiently for Sony to enter the tablet race with a product to take on Apple. The latest market share reports reveal that Apple’s lead is shrinking with the influx of Android-based tablets in the market.
According to a report in eWeek, Apple now has a 66% market share and Android with 26%. The Sony Tablet S is a worthy competitor to the iPad and I think it is better in many ways.
Apple is now feeling the competitive heat in the tablet market as the hardware feature set of the tablet stabilizes. One symptom of this ultra-competitive environment is the release of products that are not market ready, due to the need to get to market first. Apple’s latest software upgrade iOS 5 is buggy, I downloaded it onto my iPad1 and it did not restore the back-up and I lost all my apps and music. If you are an iPad user, wait for iOS 5.1 before you upgrade. This bug has caused some grief to publishers as that person’s reviews of APPs go to zero, which results in a flood of bad reviews for some Apps.
What a comfort it is to get a tablet out of the box that enables you to visit any website to watch video without worrying if it will work. (For some people that do not know, Apple does not support Flash in their devices, which means it will not work on some websites). I now can watch all my NHL highlights whereas I could not before. Sony has taken personal video entertainment to the next level with this tablet as they provide an Universal TV remote APP, so your new tablet is now integrated with your home theatre systems – the days of four remotes are over.
Sony Tablet S Scorecard
The gadgets in this blog for tablets will be based on a scorecard and will be evaluated on these four criteria to arrive at the score.
The Sony Tablet S is an Android tablet with a 1 Ghz dual core processor, its dimensions are 9.5” x 6.8” x 0.3” and weighs 1 lb 5 ounces (600 grams). Battery life is rated for 4-10 hours. It has a SD Card slot (camera memory card) and USB port.
The Sony Tablet S has fast download speeds via its 1 GHz dual core processor, this is now the standard speed for all the latest tablets. It comes with Bluetooth and wifi, but no 3G which means that you do not have to go to a wireless carrier to buy one. One nice feature is that you have access to the Sony book store with 2 million books and access to hit movies to rent or to own. You can also run Playstation games on the device. This truly is a multipurpose device.
The screen size is 9.4 inches diagonally and this dimension seems to be optimized for video viewing. Sony has ported their HD television technology to the device as the video was crisp and the colours more vibrant through their TruBlack display. Reading optimized digital editions of magazines through the mobile browser was also a breeze on this size as I did not have to worry about the magazine shrinking to an unreadable size.
Sony made some nice changes to the Android interface to make navigation simpler as you can easily access your email and web browser on the home page. The touch screen is fast and worked flawlessly and the Android web browser supports tab browsing (Note: In a previous post the Apple iPad did not support tab browsing, but is now available in the latest upgrade). I did find some bugs when web surfing as some sites did not load properly, Ryan Winsborrow from Nerds for Hire thinks it is caused by the software tweaks by Sony of the Android operating system. An upgrade to Android 3.2 might solve this problem as this device uses 3.1.
There are two versions available, 16 GB ($499) and 32 GB ($599) models and it has a unique design that make it feel feather light, even though it is the same weight as the iPad2. Its ergonomic wedge shape design shifts the weight closer to your palm to make it feel lighter and quite frankly it works and I was impressed. It has front and rear cameras with video playback. The only want I found in this tablet was that the volume was too low and needs more power.
Rating – 4.0 out of 5
Sometimes the last one in gets a chance to be the best as it learns what the market wants. The convergence of television, gaming, email, social networking, web surfing, books, magazines and camera into one device can be seen as the evolution of the tablets to another level, which Sony has done in my opinion. Some bloggers are concerned about the lack of GPS, but I have no need for this as this is a mobile home entertainment device first versus a mobile device I take on the road with me. On top of all this, you get one pretty sexy TV remote that get rids of clutter in the living room, says Ryan Winsborrow.