At first glance, the Sony Tablet S strikes you as a wee bit unbalanced. But its curvy, wedge-ended shape, textured for easy gripping, is more about useability than aesthetics. Typing is notably more comfortable, as it resembles the tilt of a typical desk keyboard, and in landscape mode the full QWERTY layout expands to include a numeric keypad on the right.
There's plenty else to like about this tablet. Running on the latest
version of Android's Honeycomb, 3.1, it's available in either 16GB or
32GB, with USB and SD card slots for easy file transfer. The 9.4-inch screen is pleasantly tactile; every swipe and tap
actions an instant response with zero lag. Press and hold to bring up
the full range of widgets and apps, and from there it's fairly straightforward to set up things just the way you like across the sprawling real estate of various screens.
The home screen stays the same, with the addition of a favourites button next to the apps menu, so you can quickly access your most-used applications. A favourites button alongside the app menu offers quick access to your most-used programmes, while the quick-launch options in the top left corner include browser, email, and Sony's social feed reader, aggregating your network activity into one place.
There are two cameras – front and rear cameras – with 1080p video capture and playback, although the front one delivered better quality capture.
The device is also PlayStation certified and comes bundled with PS1
Crash Bandicoot – which made for a couple of hours of nostalgic
entertainment – with the option to access other Sony titles. And its ability to double as a universal infrared remote across Blu-ray gadgets like your TV and stereo may prove a major drawcard.
So far, so good.
But for all that, when it came time to put the browser to the test, the S failed to rise to the challenge. Typing into fields was sluggish and, worst of all, rendering was a major issue on some websites, resulting in wonky half-loaded pages of no use to anybody. And in the age of ubiquitous connectivity, that's a flaw too big to overlook.
Here's hoping the next iteration addresses the browsing issue – because the Tablet S shows plenty of promise.