It was 2011’s Rodney Dangerfield of Android tablets. A little over a year ago, we looked at Sony’s first foray into the Android-tablet market, the Tablet S. Back then (August 2011, a lifetime ago as tablets go), we were so impressed with its unique design and feature set that we gave it our Editors’ Choice award. Apparently, though, tablet buyers didn’t see eye-to-eye with us and just kept buying iPads. The Tablet S—despite our glowing recommendation—just didn’t get much respect in the Android world.
That didn’t stop Sony, though. The Japanese electronics giant has fired back with a follow-on, the Xperia Tablet S, branded “Xperia” in line with its mobile phones. Design- and appearance-wise, this Xperia looks a lot like the original Tablet S, and it even shares some of its shortcomings, such as the lack of dedicated HDMI and USB ports (for connecting to HD monitors and USB peripherals, respectively). The Xperia also has the same (or a quite similar) 1,280×800-pixel, 9.4-inch display panel, which we found impressive on the previous Tablet S. But that was over a year ago. By today’s standards, the screen on this new version comes up about average.
Where the Xperia differs from its predecessor the most, though, is that it’s thinner and lighter. Seemingly, this should make it even more comfortable to hold than the previous model, but this new Tablet S doesn’t feel quite as well-balanced as the older one. Also, this Tablet S runs on a Nvidia’s Tegra 3 quad-core processor. The original Tablet S, on the other hand, was built around the older and less efficient Tegra 2 dual-core chip. The more powerful quad-core chip in this newer Tablet S greatly improved this slate’s performance on our benchmark tests over last year’s model. Battery life, too, increased by several hours. (We’ve got more on both issues in the last two sections of this review.)
Our $399-list review unit came with 16GB of onboard storage. Sony also offers models with 32GB ($499) and 64GB ($599). In this case, though, since the Xperia Tablet S supports full-size SD cards, increasing the storage capacity is a less costly prospect than with most tablets. (More on that in the Design section on the next page.) With that in mind, you might consider the 16GB and 32GB versions smarter buys than the 64GB model—unless, that is, you know you’ll need every possible bit of storage, both onboard and via the SD slot.
Aside from its unique design and a few innovative media and home-entertainment enhancements, in many ways the Xperia Tablet S is similar to a host of other Android tablets on the scene. Still, with that in mind, we didn’t find any glaring reasons not to buy this slate if you’re okay with Android, and some home-entertainment enthusiasts will find it more attractive than most competing models. (That’s because the Tablet S can talk to your entertainment system via its infrared emitter; more on that in the Features, Applications & Apps section later on.)
Overall, the Xperia Tablet S is a strong-performing, well-built tablet, but is it right for you? Well, that depends how you plan to use it. We can help you make that decision, though—read on.
See the full review @ Computer Shopper.