Sony may not be the electronics juggernaut that it once was, but whenever they come out with a new product, people take notice, and it was no different when Sony announced that they were going into the tablet market. The S1 tablet is Sony’s first contender in the mobile slate market and they are definitely off on the right foot.
A design that’s unmistakably from planet Japan
Sony has long been hailed as a design leader and with the S1 tablet, they’ve successfully formulated a design that is both functional as it is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Created primarily to be used in landscape view, the tear drop shaped profile of the Sony S1 tablet looks amazingly regal. When placed on a table or any other flat surface, the tear drop profile of the Sony S1 raises the upper part of the tablet which makes for an extremely viewable angle that is conducive to touch typing using the virtual keys of the screen.
The device itself feels very lightweight. In comparison, my iPad 2 weighs almost twice as much which prevents me from using it for long period of time. The lightness of the Sony S1 is quite welcome, I can read for hours on it without getting tired of its weight. Sony had to eschew from using an aluminum casing in order to get the desired weight of the S1 as it is made entirely out of plastic. When compared side by side, the iPad 2 just feels like more of a high-end product than the Sony S1. Fortunately, the plastic used on the S1 doesn’t feel cheap, in fact, it doesn’t detract much from the overall design of the S1, it still looks and feels gorgeous nonetheless.
As with all Japan made gadgets, the Sony S1 has the requisite cellphone strap hook. Go crazy with the Hello Kitty charms!
As far as technology goes, the Sony S1 tablet is fitted with hardware that meets the standard as far as high-end specs goes. The dual core Tegra 2 processor ensures that the S1 runs Android Honeycomb very smoothly while the built-in SD card reader and long range IR sensor gives the Sony S1 tablet additional functionality that’s not available on competing tablet.
The long range IR sensor comes especially handy as Sony has generously included a full universal remote control application in the S1. a bunch of codecs is already baked into the universal remote application which makes it compatible with most home entertainment systems made by Philips, Panasonic, Samsung and other popular manufacturer. Don’t worry if your TV’s not its list, the S1’s universal remote application is a learning remote which guarantees 100% compatibility with every IR remote hardware out in the market.
Wifi and Bluetooth wireless protocol rounds up the rest of the feature set that completes Sony’s first born tablet.
A touch of Sony
The S1 tablet comes with a full suite of Sony made application which includes DLNA functionality that’s optimized to work with Sony branded appliances. The S1 is also the first tablet to be Sony PlayStation certified, in theory, this means that the S1 can be synced with one’s PSN ID and download Playstation games to be played on the S1 tablet. Unfortunately, aside from the 2 built-in Playstation games (Crash Bandicoot and Pinball), I wasn’t able to access the PSN features of the S1 tablet as it seems to be region locked to only work with IP addresses of countries where the PlayStation Network is available.
Usability in a sleek, plastic shell
The unique shape and weight of the Sony S1 really makes it a nice tablet to lug around. Most tablets in the market are either too heavy or their form factor too unwieldy. Sony solves those two problems up front, this is the first tablet that I didn’t mid carrying with me everyday. The Tegra 2 processor handles Honeycomb like a breeze, it’s fast and snappy with almost no lag in between taps and swipes. The 5,000 mAh battery gives the Sony S1 ample battery life as it lasts me on average two days with heavy use during the day and performing remote control duties in the evening.
I’m not that big a fan of tablets, truth be told, I seldom carry my iPad with me. The Sony S1 changed all that and it’s all thanks to Sony’s smart design decision in making the S1 light weight and easy to handle. Even the small act of adding a lanyard strap hook makes the S1 that much fun to carry around. Honeycomb in some ways is a better tablet operating system than Apple’s iOS and I’m glad Sony has decided to go Android in their first foray into the tablet market. The only huge downside I can say about the Sony S1 is its unique charging port. Honestly Sony, stop with the proprietary crap and go with a universal standard like micro USB in your next tablet (the S1 does have a micro USB port, but is only used for data transferring), you’re not doing your customers any favors.
If some one would ask me about which tablet they should be buying, I would whole heartedly recommend the Sony S1. Too bad it’s not available locally.
Availability: Online (Amazon.com)
Price: $599 USD (32 GB model)
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