It’s… like a Vaio. But even smaller.
Had a total epiphany the other day and wondered, “why aren’t I using Flickr for pictures? So here we go. Please bear with me, I was giddy with excitement and took snapshots instead of actual photos.
The Sony Tablet S is something I’ve personally been looking forward to since about last March. Officially on preorder at Sony Stores, September 1st, I actually ran into them in real life by accident. 15 days later, it was physically in my hands.
Please note that I bought the tablet specifically for school use – a lot of important(?) criteria in this review might become slightly biased in the sense that I’m looking in terms of budget and practicality. At least, for the most part.
It’s gorgeous. It’s like Sony’s picture frames. I don’t really buy into its “magazine shape” gimmick, but it really is comfortable to hold. And it’s at a decent angle when I put it down, so no complaints there.
Unboxing and first impressions
The box (that is, the packaging) is nicely designed as well, opening up fairly easily and having the basic instruction printed onto the inside cover of the box. It really was that simple ; hold the power button for 3 seconds, and it would boot up. It took a lot longer than I thought it would to start (read: before I actually saw something that wasn’t the gold swirls appearing and fading from the screen), but it was an easy setup after that.
The Quick Start Guide (as seen in above picture) is pretty much a 3 page manual with the generic obvious things on it: What was in the box, how to charge the battery, how to turn the tablet on (also written on the box cover), how to access the help guide (which I learned couldn’t be accessed if you had no internet connection, luckily they also wrote a link there for PC access), and finally, how to set up wifi. In my opinion, they should have put the wifi section before the help guide, but I suppose most people, like me, just tinker with devices until they get to what they need.
Underneath that is a doublesided pictographic (no words at all) guide to how to power up, unlock, set up a Google Account and basic overview of home screen buttons. Something I didn’t read until just now for this blog’s purposes.
Since I’m pretty sure everyone’s seen a 360 view of the tablet already, I won’t really go into that. I will however, talk about the usability of the thing. It’s pretty smooth. Unlike my other android device (Xperia Arc), programs don’t exactly close when you’re done with them, but they don’t remain running, either. Task killer apps could be installed, but it’s not really necessary.
* It actually took me forever to find the settings button. Personally I’m used to it looking like the generic wrench and screwdriver – here, it’s what appears to be a dial. Since I know nothing about other Android devices, is it like that for other tablets as well?
* I was surprised at how much storage space I have in the tablet. It’s surprisingly… little, or at least, seems fairly little. I actually thought I got ripped off when I first looked at the storage space; the tablet divides it between Apps and General storage. There’s 3.94 GB allotted for Apps, and 8.92 GB for everything else for the 16gb tablet. I’m morbidly curious to see if I’m able to go over that limit, either on apps or general storage, but I doubt I’d ever be able to do so; the tablet also allows for an SD card to be inserted. I haven’t really looked thoroughly into that yet, but the files on the SD card seem to be accessible through the “File Transfer” app.
I’m not going to lie, I pretty much leaned towards the Tablet S from the start because of their ability to play Playstation branch games. I was super disappointed when I couldn’t find the Playstation Store App anywhere. Nonetheless, the fact that it’s Playstation Certified is splashed everywhere; on their site, on the box, even on the tablet itself. Just that it’s on the back so you’ll probably rarely see it.
Speaking of Playstation, there’s a built in function that allows the tablet to work as a remote control for almost all entertainment systems – TVs, stereos, DVD players, even the ones that aren’t from Sony. Ironically, the Playstations aren’t included in that list.
Some features preinstalled onto the tablet, including the Playstation Store, aren’t released for the S yet, but will eventually. It’s fine, I can wait.
This is where the real fun begins.
The Sony Store sold the tablet with free Sony Deep Bass headphones (sticker retails them for 49.99) and a Targus Hughes Leather Portfolio Slipcase for iPad (Yes, you read correctly. iPad). I’m actually quite content with the headphones – they were the exact same ones I was debating to get a couple days before. The leather case, on the other hand, frustrated me terribly. On on hand, there was a free case. On the other, it only fit if the tablet was put in a specific way (in other words, thin side first), else it would not fit. I found this out the hard way:
If you’re wondering, I didn’t leave it like that because I hate the case – that’s actually as far as it can get, and I actually do love the case, it just doesn’t work very well.
I’m assuming they give you this one because they’d like to market this beautiful custom Tablet S leather case to you for 99.99, but I really don’t roll like that. They also decided to separate their dock and keyboard (39.99 and 69.99, respectively) to potentially milk you even more (unlike Acer’s Eeepad dock and Kingston’s iPad keyboards).
Now, I’m not going to lie and say that the Tablet S doesn’t fit into an iPad case. It does, and quite well, in fact. So, common sense? Why spend over $100 on a leather case when you can spend half that on any other iPad case out there? Why spend another $110 on a separate dock and keyboard when you can spend half that on an android-compatible keyboard that comes with a stand?
I did just that.
These are (albeit terrible photos) of the Belkin Pleat Sleeve and Logitech Tablet Keyboard (and no, I didn’t pay that price for the keyboard – I got it for a lot cheaper). The keyboard is slightly longer than the tablet, but during my search for length consistency, I’ve found that every bluetooth keyboard out there is approximately that size. Even the Sony keyboard is longer than the tablet, so I’m not going to complain about it. As for the dock, it runs the route similar to the one from the Nintendo 3Ds in the sense where it not only props your device upright, but also charges it as well. Not of much use when it comes to school, and obviously, not quite portable since it doesn’t collapse like the Logitech one does.
You must be asking. Why not any other brand? Why Sony? (And if not, you must be asking that now)
It’s cheaper than the iPad 2, not to mention, I despise iTunes with a burning passion. Not to mention I live approximately 5 minutes from the Sony head office here, where the lineup for support is, well, pretty much nonexistant and I don’t need to make appointments (despite said lineup being nonexistant). I can talk directly with Sony support employees and not through a middleman. The people who work at places like BestBuy or Sony stores are also considered middlemen in the sense they need to send the problematic product to a head office for repairs. I had considered the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Acer Eeepad Transformer as well, but it’d be problematic trying to get support for them.
It’s a nice and fairly light tablet – my mom is a bit envious of it (the tablet weighs less than the iPad 2), but it’s been a long, long wait. I wouldn’t call it a competitor to the iPad though; it seems more like an extremely condensed version of a Vaio laptop than anything. Most importantly, it’s not really causing me to shut off my laptop and convert to tablet; as you can see in the picture with the Logitech keyboard, my laptop is still turned on behind it. On its own, it’s a bit empty and misleading in terms of file space (like I said earlier, I thought I had been ripped off and gotten an 8GB instead of a 16GB at first – and if you’re wondering, no, the tablet comes in 16gb and 32gb only) but that was quickly remedied by my “uninstall”happy finger and the Android Market.
Accessories wise, I’d definitely recommend looking into and getting alternative cases, and if you require it, keyboards. The Sony ones, while nice (I’m sure, else they wouldn’t be those prices) aren’t really worth it, especially if you’re on a budget.