This is the second part of my review of the Sony Tablet S – here’s the first part.
Using the Tablet S
Sony’s device may be the Pope’s choice, but the first thing Jenny said after she picked it up and had a play with it: “It’s not very intuitive”. She too, is an Apple convert – when I upgraded to the iPhone 4, she received my crummy 3G as a hand-me-down. Despite it being excrutiatingly slow, she’s accustomed to the little niceties of the iOS interface and using Android was a stark reminder of the conclusion I came to in the previous part, that refinement trumps innovation.
But I’m not here to review Android – I’m not nearly qualified enough for that (and the imminent release of Ice Cream Sandwich would render any comments irrelevant very soon anyway). As far as the Sony-specific apps are concerned, they’re trivialities for me. Video and Music Unlimited are interesting, but not services I’d use – even less so because the model I tested doesn’t have 3G access (a model that does support it is forthcoming, I’m told). I’m not a big consumer of music and movies, but I imagine that Sony, as a content behemoth as well as an electronics giant, would have pretty good offerings.
The device is also PlayStation Certified, meaning that it can access the PlayStation Store, and play certain games (currently limited to a selection of PS1 titles). The device comes with Pinball Heroes and Crash Bandicoot. It’s difficult to play with the touch controls on the screen, but a recent software update allows a PlayStation controller to be hooked up to the Tablet, which makes the gaming proposition a lot more attractive.
There’s a reason why I’ve left ’til last to mention the features. It’s because They are irrelevant. This was a difficult concept to grasp for an old school computer geek like me, who grew up using Bytes and Hertz as the primary means of comparing systems. But seriously, when was the last time you cared – really cared – about the core specs of your main computer? Let’s be frank here: modern computers are fucking fast. They’re faster than anyone is likely to need any more, and speed is becoming about as relevant to a computing purchase as whether the unit has a floppy disk drive.
The Sony Tablet S has some stuff. It’s stuff that you’ll find in a lot of other current Android-based tablets. Its sole distinguishing feature is the inclusion of an Infrared port that allows you to use the device as a universal remote for all of the components of your home entertainment system (TV, sound system, blu-ray/DVD player, etc.) Admittedly, this is cool, and it’s surprising that Sony is the first to have it.
Conclusion – overall
My time with the Sony Tablet S gave me a good look over the fence – in fact not just a look, but a good decent trample. Having done so, it’s settled in my mind once and for all: the grass definitely isn’t greener on the other side. Looks like I’ll be staying with the dark side for now, but Sony have encouragingly nudged the bar slightly higher for all would-be players. In that they should be commended.