Sony Tablet S Analysis: The Gamer's Choice?
Gamers are a unique bunch. ...okay, maybe they're not exactly unique, but they like it when other digital products cater to their tastes.
Take the Sony Tablet S, for instance, marketed towards gamers as being the only PlayStation-certified tablet available. And indeed, the slick unit features access to the PlayStation Store, which is a big bonus, especially because you can always add to the admittedly bare selection.
So how's about the rest? Is this a tablet gamers are going to want? Please bear in mind that for the purposes of this analysis, I compared the tablet to other popular tablets, such as my brother's iPad 2.
Let's start with the look and feel of the Tablet S: This really is one of the most comfortable tablets to hold, which I think is critical considering that I still view these things as portable devices (forget the damn cradles). It's comfortable with one or two hands, the nicely textured surface is conducive to a good grip, and it achieves this level of comfort without much of a fuss. The design is really sort of understated, really.
Screen and Visual
As for the display, you'll be looking at a 9.4" screen that features fantastic depth of color. The 1280 x 800 resolution is clear and sharp, and it actually looks pretty good from off to the side, too (you don't necessarily have to have it directly in front of you to appreciate the visual quality). When you check out some top-notch games, movies, and videos, you'll be all the more impressed with the overall picture.
That being said, the screen's functionality isn't too great. The screen just isn't very slick and actually feels sticky; even my Samsung Stratosphere 4G LTE feels much smoother. If you've got any moisture on your fingers at all, the Galaxy S screen proves problematic, and even extra cold or clammy fingers can cause issues. I'm not saying you can't use the screen effectively; I'm merely comparing it to other screens I've used. The iPad 2 screen, for instance, is super slick and extremely responsive.
Hardware and Apps
Moving on to hardware, I'm not a huge tech person but I did some research here- the Sony's Tablet S started by running Android 3.2.1 but thankfully, it has since upgraded to Android 4.0, which it definitely needed. Overall, in regards to basic mechanics, it still isn't the fastest tablet available, as it doesn't have the silky smooth transition between screens. There's always this very minor delay that actually gets more frustrating with use, especially if you're used to something a little cleaner and quicker. That being said, the included apps are a big plus.
You've got Music Unlimited (which offers a free membership) and a Reader app as well, which syncs up with any Sony eReader hardware. There's even a nifty MediaRemote app that can be used as a universal remote. Bear in mind that I did not test this. I was a little too focused on exploring the one aspect of this tablet that would appeal most to gamers: The all-important inclusion of the PlayStation Store.
Well...it's there. That's about all I can say right now. While the tablet gives you two games out of the box (the PS1 classic Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Heroes), the Store only features a handful of games. In fact, only about a dozen. Given what the Store actually has when you log on with the PS3 or Vita, that's just a ridiculously low number. Still, at least the Store is available and I've been told they'll keep updating with S-compatible software. PS1 classics on the go is great, but bear in mind that such compatibility will be coming to the Vita very soon.
Overall, I'd say the Tablet S features a great design that is comfortable when held in almost any fashion, a really top-notch graphical display that captures the color saturation quality of a lot of high-res stuff, and the available Music Unlimited and Reader apps make me feel a lot better about the product. It does just about everything any other tablet does (plus a full-screen Chumby alarm clock) and perhaps a tick more, and that's important.
As is often the case in the PlayStation universe, we're examining potential when it comes to a piece of hardware. And in the case of the Sony Tablet S, I'd say gamers should at least keep an eye on it. They really need to get more Store products in there fast but I can see video game fans going, "Yeah, this is the tablet for me."
7/27/2012 Ben Dutka