New Sony Tablets, the Tablet S

On one of my other blogs I recently wrote about a fondness for gadgets from Sony.

Well it would appear that Sony are wanting to enter the Tablet market (again, anyone remember the Clié?)

Sony have announced the Tablet P and the Tablet S.

The Tablet S in some ways is a traditional Android tablet with a 9.4” wide touchscreen. It runs Honeycomb 3.2, the newer version of Android designed specifically with tablets in mind. It has a camera and a memory card slot.

Whereas most tablets rely on a case to slant the screen if you are using the tablet on a desk or table, the Sony Tablet S has a slant built in. However unlike the iPad you can’t place it in a more vertical position, but you can get a cradle that will allow you to place it in a vertical position.

One of the criticisms laid against the HP TouchPad was its lack of responsiveness, the advertising behind the Sony S says that it has an “amazingly responsive touch panel and a more intuitive user interface” of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating and it will be interesting to see if the interface and responsiveness is as good (if not better) than the iPad.

In a similar vein to Apple’s AirPlay, the tablet comes with built-in DLNA media apps that can stream content to “media entertainment devices” which means things like Sony Bravia TVs and the PS3.

Unlike the iPad which has limited native playback, the Sony Tablet S can play a lot of media formats.

In terms of audio it can play AAC, mp3, WAV, WMA, WMA Pro, FLAC, MIDI, Ogg Vorbis. For video it can play H.263, H.264/AVC, MPEG-4, WMV. It can also display the following image formats JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, WBMP. This means that the Tablet S can play not only many Apple friendly formats, it can also play Windows friendly formats too. Of course it wouldn’t be able to play iTunes protected content, so if you have already made an investment in iTunes movies and TV shows then you probably won’t like the fact that it won’t play on the Tablet S. It also won’t natively play DivX files, so like the iPad you will need to rely on a third party app to do this.

I am sure one of the reasons behind the success of the iPad is the back end infrastructure which is iTunes. Not only is there the App Store, but you also can buy video and audio from iTunes Store. Sony may be able to compete on a more level playing field with Apple, as well as the Android Market Place, Sony (in some countries and hopefully will include the UK) will be able to let users “rent or purchase thousands of new movies and popular TV shows from Video Unlimited.” Music Unlimited sounds more like a subscription service allowing you access to seven million music tracks. Both are renamed versions of Qriocity.

Though I much prefer the Kindle app (partly as I have a Kindle too) there is a built in e-reader app, and as Sony has had an e-book store for a while for its e-readers devices, you can access this store direct from the Tablet S.

I am sure part of the success of the iPad (and more the iPod touch) has been casual gaming, a quick fun gaming experience. Of course Sony the company behind the PSP have made gaming part of their tablet and you can access PlayStation games through the tablet. This makes this Android tablet different to all the other tablets, you of course have access to all the other games available in the Android marketplace.

With access to apps, games, books, music and video, this means that consumers can make a real choice about what tablet they want to buy, a much more level playing field. Though I don’t think Sony will ever be able to match the iPad though, even if their Tablet is better in some areas and can match the iPad in others.

There are three versions of the Tablet S, all with wifi and one with 3G, however that 3G version only comes with 16GB of memory. Now with the iPad I found that quite limiting however with the Tablet S there is a memory card slot, so at least you can expand the storage.

I think one of the decided factors for me would be battery life, I am still impressed with the battery life of the iPad. The Tablet S advertises it’s battery life at 8 hours and I wonder if this is a real 8 hours or a don’t do anything with the brightness turned down 8 hour battery life.

I do quite like the look of the Sony Tablet S, I do like Sony stuff and if I was at this time choosing a tablet, I would be giving serious consideration to this new Sony Tablet. The price is similar (from £399) and that probably is now what will hold this tablet back, if it had been released at the same time as the original iPad it would have been a serious contender. However releasing it now, I am sure given the choice most people will choose the iPad, not because it is better, but merely because people perceive it to be better.

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