Around a year ago, I had no interest in tablets. I simply couldn't understand all the hype surrounding them - they didn't do anything more than the average computer or laptop, so what was the point?
My dear grandmother decided to purchase the Sony S tablet as she wanted something lightweight that she could have on her lap instead of her bulky, heavy laptop and also so she didn't have to sit at her computer. This was definitely ideal for her. Needless to say, curiosity got the better of me and I ended up having a play with this when I was visiting her one day and I was actually quite impressed with the tablet - it's definitely novel to use.
Fast forward a few months to Christmas. I was very kindly given one as a gift from my grandparents after being converted to tablets! I've been using it heavily for the past few months so I feel I can give a good opinion of this tablet.
** What's In The Box? **
The box contains the tablet (well I'd be annoyed if it didn't!), a mains charger and a users manual.
** Specifications **
The first thing to note is the screen size. The Sony S tablet has a 9.4 inch screen which is ideal for me as I definitely wanted a large screen. It has 1GB of RAM and can be purchased with either 16 or 32GB storage space, although the latter is much pricier. The tablet has two cameras, rear and front, which are 5MP and 0.3MP respectively. Currently, it runs Android 3.2 but an upgrade to version 4 is planned. It also has a micro USB and SD card slots and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. It weighs 598 grams, just a few grams less than the iPad 2 so there is not a considerable amount of difference weight wise.
** My Thoughts **
The most noticeable thing about the Sony Tablet S is it's rather unusual shape. It mimics a folded-over book, which Sony claim makes it more natural and comfortable to hold, which I would agree with if you use a tablet primarily for reading books in the portrait orientation, but is also easy to hold while held in landscape orientation. It has a textured back to help with the grip. The shape makes it a little more awkward to fit into a bag or briefcase than for example the iPad, which is completely flat and very thin, which is something to consider if you're wanting to take it out and about.
Other than the odd shape, it's aesthetics are fairly unremarkable but quite sleek looking. It only comes in one colour, which is black, and is plastic instead of metal like the iPad. To me, the plastic makes it feel a tiny bit cheaper than the metal casing of the iPad and I've occasionally heard a creak or two coming from the casing, which can be annoying.
One thing I really like about this tablet is the screen. I feel it's high quality and appears crystal clear and very sharp thanks to the high resolution (2560х1920). It displays colours well - they always appear vibrant and rich. Photos appear nice and sharp which makes it ideal for watching videos and looking at photos. The screen is 9.4 inches which is an ideal size for me as I found the 7 inch tablets a little small for my liking.
The battery life is very good. I went through a stage of using this exclusively instead of my PC and laptop and it lasts a good 10 hours of near constant use playing games and browsing the internet without needing to be charged. It apparently has a standby time of up to a whopping 400 hours, which for once I can actually believe! One thing I feel is really annoying however is the charger. This is the most awkward charger I have ever used! I found it very difficult to actually connect the charger as it's a long rectangular shape that has 4 pins and needs a lot of fiddling on my part to get it into the tablet, especially as the charging port is on the bottom of the tablet which is awkward to reach. I would have preferred a charging port on the side of the tablet to make things easier. One thing I was pleased about however was the fact it's a mains charger and not a USB one as I don't have much space around my PC for my phone let alone a tablet!
As I mentioned in the specifications paragraph, the Sony S has micro USB and SD card ports on the side, which are, in my opinion, hard to reach. They are hidden behind a rather flimsy feeling panel that I find very hard to open. I feel a sliding cover rather than a flip cover would have been much more user friendly. I also would have preferred a standard USB port to a micro USB one as I'd never even heard of micro USB until I owned this tablet.
Being an Android tablet, the home screen and operating system in general were quite familiar to me as I have an Android phone. Even if you've never used Android before, you'll get the hang of it really quickly as the icons are clear and it's easy to work out what they mean. There are icons across the top of the screen for searching the internet (via Google of course), the built-in internet browser, e-mail (which you will need to set up - I found it a bit tricky to figure out all the settings needed), the remote control function (unfortunately I can't comment further on this as I've never managed to get it working with my TV) and a social reader which can be used with Twitter or Facebook. On the other side of the screen, there is easy access to 'favourites' (which just seems to be a different layout of the normal app page) and also all downloaded apps. There are several different home screens that you can scroll through and add apps to.
At the bottom of the screen, there are icons for back, home (brings you back to the home screen of the tablet) and an icon that lets you see all the apps you have open which I find very useful. On the other side it shows your notifications (from e-mail, updates, apps etc), the time, WiFi strength (you can click on this to get access to all tablet settings) and battery level.
It feels very responsive, swift and fluid thanks to the dual core 1Ghz processor. I find everything loads quickly and the touchscreen is very responsive.
Being a Sony product, it's also worth mentioning that it's 'Playstation Certified', meaning you can download old Playstation 1 games onto the tablet. I was very excited about this feature but unfortunately I was very disappointed when I had a look - there are only a few titles available and the controls for a real controller unsurprisingly don't transfer well to a touchscreen, making games very difficult to play.
The camera is very average. Despite being 5 megapixels, the images it takes are pretty bad which was a disappointment. Images lack sharpness and contrast, leading to a very flat looking image. There is no flash either which makes photos taken anywhere other than outside on a bright sunny day dull, dark and grainy. I wouldn't use the camera for anything other than the quick snapshot if I'm in a bright room. I was expecting a lot more from the camera to be honest.
I've experienced my fair share of glitches and bugs with the operating system itself while using this tablet daily, which does take the enjoyment out of using an otherwise nice tablet.
First of all, sometimes when I try to access the internet, it refuses to connect and I have to disconnect and reconnect the WiFi, which as you can imagine is extremely frustrating, especially as I can't for the life of me figure out why it does this.
Secondly, the internet browser sometimes crashes suddenly without warning or error messages, which is also very annoying especially when you're reading something online and forgot to bookmark it!
Finally, I've had a bit of a shock twice now where the tablet turns itself off and refuses to turn back on for a few minutes. Again, I have no idea why it does this but it's very worrying when it does happen.
I'm hoping the update to Android 4 will fix these problems as they are a bit of an annoyance.
Overall, I'm happy with this tablet and whilst it's not a necessity as I already have both a laptop and a desktop PC, it does make a nice addition to my collection. It has a nice screen, good battery life and is fast and responsive. I would definitely recommend this one to anyone looking for an Android tablet, despite the issues it has.
I bought this to take on holiday instead of a laptop as I wanted something lightweight and user friendly for my 4 year old daughter to watch films on if the need arose. As I have never liked the Apple operating system I chose to go for an Android tablet and this one came out top on my short list.
Initial set up is easy if you take your time despite the complete lack of any proper printed instructions and getting linked up to my home network was an absolute doddle. From here on a few app downloads later and I was hooked. So easy and intuitive to use thanks to an excellent touch screen and the clever folded design (which I thought was abit of a gimmick) really does make the tablet more comfortable to hold in portrait mode.
The Android market place is expanding rapidly and although the selection of apps is nowhere near that of Apple there is more than enough choice available to do pretty much whatever you can think of. A huge number of free apps are available and this is mostly what I use as the adverts that keep them free are fairly small and don't get in the way of what you're trying to do.
The fact that it has an SD card slot makes it a real winner for me and means that when travelling back from a day out with my camera I can plug in my card and view the fruits of my labour on a decent size screen rather than on the back of my camera. If you are using an SD card for this or as additional storage to expand the capacity of the tablet then I would recommend a free app called FileManagerHD as it makes life so much easier.
I now use this far more than my laptop for general day to day tasks and I would advise anyone thinking about taking the plunge and buying a tablet to give this serious consideration.
Not the cheapest tablet out there, not the best battery life or wi-fi range and the speakers although producing very high quality sound for onboard speakers are not particularly loud but overall a very nice piece of tech to have.