Sony Xperia Tablet S Review
The Xperia Tablet S is Sony’s 10-inch slate from last year that packs a good set of hardware and an unusual design. With the Xperia Tablet Z on the way, let’s find out if this tablet is still worth looking into by reading our full review.
Sony hasn’t been very prompt with releasing their Android tablets in the Philippines. The Xperia Tablet S took some time to get to shore but we thought to still give it a try.
Design and Construction
The Tablet S looks like a typical 10-inch slate when you look at it on the front. It has small rounded corners, bezels almost an inch wide, and the Sony logo and front-facing camera located on top of the display. But turn the device around and you’ll notice what I’m talking about. The top of the tablet curves all the way to the back which gives of an impression that the Tablet S had excess plastic and Sony just decided to fold it instead of cutting it off. While this approach in design makes it standout, it also contributes to a few disadvantages: 1) the device is not totally balanced with uneven back surface; 2) weight distribution is uneven as well, top-heavy in landscape; 3) the extra thickness makes it a little difficult to hold. While these physical factors don’t make the device ugly, they don’t exactly make the Tablet S attractive either.
As for the rest of its physique, found on the right-hand side are the power/lock button, volume rocker and notifications light. On the left are the headset jack and SD card port. At the bottom are the proprietary connector and charging port as well as the large dual-speakers. Flip it on its back and you’ll see the 8 megapixel camera and two small plastic nubs found near the bottom. The rest of the body is made up of aluminum which gives the device a solid look and feel.
Overall, the Tablet S has a really great build but the design might not appeal to everyone. In addition, it’s very hefty at 570g so one-handed use can be a little tiring.
The Tablet S’s TFT display isn’t exactly 10 inches but rather 9.4 inches. It has WXGA resolution or 800 x 1280 which calculates to a pixel density of 161 ppi. While the resolution doesn’t impress that much, it has PLS (Plane to Line Switching) for great viewing angles, oleophobic coating to resist fingerprints, Mobile BRAVIA Engine to give the display a boost in details and colors, and IPX4 certification for splash proofing.
Overall, the display on the Tablet S is great except for the low resolution and evident pixels.
OS, UI and Apps
The Xperia Tablet S currently runs on Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich, which is quite disappointing as it makes the device look and feel outdated even with the slight customizations Sony made on the UI. However, it’s good to know that Sony is planning to upgrade the Tablet S to Jellybean by end of April or early May. A little late but better late than never.
Like most Android tablets, Google is well integrated in the Tablet S so your usual Google Apps come preinstalled. There’s no bloatware but you do get preinstalled apps like Evernote, Office Suite, Media Remote, Sony Select, Socialife, and Reader by Sony. One of the most interesting here is the Remote control app which works as a remote control to your TV, DVD or Blu-Ray player and caters to a wide range of brands.
Camera and Multimedia
The Tablet S sports an 8 megapixel AF (AF-C / AF-S) rear camera which can produce images with good colors and details. It locks in fast and shoots quick. At 8 megapixels, the camera shoots at an aspect ratio of 4:3. If you need a 16:9 photo you will need to lower the camera resolution to 5 megapixels. It also supports geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection and Panorama. Overall, the camera on the Tablet S is really great. Take a look at the sample photos below:
As for video recording capabilities, it can shoot 1080p videos at 30fps while the 1 megapixel front-camera is capable of 720p. Watch the sample video below:
As for handling multimedia, this is where the Tablet S excels. Of course, almost all Android tablets are capable when handling multimedia files but what sets the Tablet S apart from the rest is the loud dual speakers that can produce clear and crisp sounds and the inclusion of an SD card slot. The SD card slot became an instant favorite as we can just take the SD card from our digital camera and plug it in the tablet for easy viewing, quick editing and uploading.
Performance, Benchmarks, Battery Life
Powering the device is NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quad-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz, and 1GB of RAM. This in turn makes everything run smoothly and beautifully which can be noticed when playing graphic intensive games. We like playing Dead Trigger and we’re very pleased that we can play it at a system recommended Ultra High settings without any problems. There are occasional lags and crashes of course like delayed transitions when exiting to the homescreen, checking recently opened applications, or simply browsing pictures on the gallery. Another irk is the WiFi sometimes disconnects when the screen is locked for a few minutes even when set to constant connectivity. It rarely happens but when it does, it’s extremely annoying. Hopefully this goes away when the update arrives.
As for benchmarks, AnTuTu gave it a score of 11,503, while Quadrant Standard gave it a score of 4,255. Vellamo gave it a score of 1,272 on HTML 5 test and 383 on Metal. As for its GPU prowess, it NenaMark2 gauged the ULP GeForce GPU at 57.4fps.
Now for the battery life, the tablet has a 6,000mAh worth of juice which we consumed mostly on WiFi internet browsing, heavy SNS browsing, moderate gaming and watching a couple of TV series a day. With that kind of use the Tablet S was able to last for 6 to 8 hours. For some reason, we also noticed that it still consumes a lot of power even on standby. We left the tablet on 25% juice with WiFi off before we retired for the night and we woke up to lifeless tablet the next day.
The Sony Xperia Tablet S is a good 10-incher that has a good build quality and a unique design. There’s not much to boast about in terms of display resolution but the accurate colors and good viewing angles, plus splash proofing compensates for the lack of pixel density. While we don’t recommend using a tablet as the main gadget for taking pictures, the 8 megapixel rear camera is hard to ignore.
In addition, the 1 megapixel front-facing camera works great for video chats. The only real downside we see here is the Android Ice Cream Sandwich and the expensive price tag. Although Android Jellybean is on the way, the current Php24,000 SRP (16GB) makes you want to wait for its successor, the Xperia Tablet Z.
Sony Xperia Tablet S specs:
9.4-inch LCD @ 1280×800 pixels
Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine
IPX-4 certified – splash proof
NVidia Tegra 3 1.3GHz quad-core processor
16GB, 32GB, 64GB internal storage
up to 32GB via SD card
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
8MP rear camera
1MP front-facing camera
6000mAh Li-Ion battery
Android 4.0.3 ICS
239.8 x 174.4 x 8.8 mm
What we like about it:
* Great build
* Unique design
* Great camera
* Good display in terms of features
* Decent battery life
* Fast gaming performance
What we didn’t like about it:
* Outdated OS
* Low resolution display
* Occasional lags and crashes
* Still expensive
* Proprietary cable instead of standard microUSB