Sony Xperia S - Short Of Being Truly Amazing

12/6/2012 3:18:30 PM

Sony developed an iconic look with the original Tablet S, which PC World reviewed early this year. At IFA this year, tit returned with a revised design which, on the surface at least, tackled all the aspects that we felt weren’t quite as awesome as they could have been.

The good looks of this 9.4-inch Android tablet have never been in doubt- with its unusual fold- over top, and slimline styling, it’s definitely a head-turner. Also worth a double take is the bright, 1280 x 800 IPS screen.

The Tablet S is robust, with no flex or give, and few spots where crumbs, dirt and other gunk can get caught.

Description: Sony Xperia S

Bendy: Unusual design, nice screen

The IPS screen is a vivid, color accurate display, indoors at least. Outside it suffers from glare a little, though tilting the screen from glare a little, though tilting the screen was enough to make it viewable no matter how bright things got.

Inside the Tablet S is an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, which gave great results on the benchmarks we ran, and for the most part delivered snappy and responsive apps. Popular game Monsters Ate My Condo ran slickly and was ultra-responsive. Waking the tablet from sleep is slow, however, and it can sometimes be unclear whether you pressed an app firmly enough but it didn’t respond, or you didn’t press firmly enough.

There’s a full-sized SD card slot for storage on top of the 10 GB in our review model. Our model had some 6 GB of that 10 GB already consumed, so we were glad it was possible to expand the capacity.

The rear camera is 8MP, and there’s a front facing camera, too, which was perfectly acceptable for Skype. The app for the 8 MP camera isn’t as responsive as we’d have liked, but the photos are clear and crisp.

Sony offers many proprietary widgets and applications on the Tablet S. There’s a remote control app, Walkman, Music Unlimited, Reader by Sony and more. There’s not a Sony skin, as such, but as with the Xperia phones, there are overlays that add customization over and above Android 4.0. While they gave me a few moments of confusion, wondering exactly what I should press, most are fairly unobtrusive and useful.

I found that typing on the Xperia Tablet S was easy and straightforward, and the keyboard is accurate. However, when it came to entering information on web forms and the like I ran into some problems. Pressing on the screen to select an area to type in seemed to either work too fast, or too slow- I’d press, type in the wrong section, or wait, then press again, to no avail. This wasn’t an issue when selecting items in a game, even for detailed games where precise touch was needed, so I’m not entirely sure what the cause is.

The other issue for me was the battery life. I play games a fair bit on a tablet, and it chews through battery life rapidly. The poor Xperia Tablet S couldn’t make half a day. Even on relatively light use, I got no more than two days use from it I get three or four on an iPad 2. The situation was even worse if I used the combined key board/cover that Sony provided along with the review sample, which drained the battery dry in two days even if the tablet was switched off.

Description: the Tablet S, giving it a speed boost, a redesigned chassis and a rack of other upgrades.

The Tablet S, giving it a speed boost, a redesigned chassis and a rack of other upgrades.

I feel as though the Tablet S is a very good tablet that just stops short of being truly amazing. It has a great screen and good processor, but both are marred by the lower than expected battery life and occasional frustrating unresponsiveness. For a ten- inch tablet competing with the iPad, that’s probably enough to prevent it gaining traction. If you’ve invested in other Sony ecosystem products, such as TV, Xperia phone and Reader, I’d seriously consider it, however.

At a glance

·         1280 x 800 IPS screen is great indoors and copes with sunlight

·         Sony customized apps overlay on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

·         Battery life is quite short for a tablet


Sony Xperia S

·         Price: $699

·         Website:

·         A well-performing tablet with a few hiccups, but no fatal flaws

Value: 8/10


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