Last Wednesday I stopped by the Sony store at the Century City Mall here in West Los Angeles, where the company was holding a launch event for their Tablet S.

The Tablet S is one of two Sony tablets that the company plans on releasing.  The S sports a 9.4-inch touchscreen with 1280×800 resolution. While the version I played with was loaded with Android 3.1, Sony reps said they planned to ship it with 3.2 in the coming day or days.

Under the hood is a dual core Nvidia Tegra 2 1Ghz processor.  It’s repelete with webcams on either side (5MP in the back, .3MP on the front for video chatting), Bluetooth, WiFi, a micro USB ports, an infrared port (more on that later), accelerometer and a 5000mAh battery.

To be clear, I’m not an Android guy.  In fact I’ve never been a huge fan of the OS, since I find it relatively clunky compared to the smoother, more refined Apple iOS.  However, I realize that both have their caveats and depending on what side of the tech aisle you sit on you’ll either agree or disagree with me.  Ultimately my point is that the Tablet S doesn’t function in quite the same smooth and sleek fashion as the iPad.  It felt a bit jerky as I swiped between screens and didn’t boast the same pin point touchscreen accuracy as found on Apple’s tablet.

Tablet S ports (mico-USH and headphone) – click to enlarge

Surfing the web however was a pleasurable experience despite the above mentioned shortcoming.  Even on the Sony store’s some what slow WiFi, pages loaded quickly in the browser.  GadgetReview appeared in full and didn’t show any glitches in terms of rendering.  I didn’t have a chance to check out a flash based site or video, but the Tablet S, thanks to Android 3.1 is fully compatible with both.

So I’ve owned and used the first iPad since day one of its release.  I’m also an iPhone user, so fair to say I’m familiar with the iOS’ UI.  And perhaps this is why I found the UI of Sony’s tablet so daunting.  There are a variety of home screens that can be customized to your liking – a core feature of Android.  However, they also offered a variety of short cut buttons or tabs that I’m still trying to make sense of.  There is also a set of short cut buttons to move back to the previous page and return to the home screen.  But, again, this judgement is derived from not more than 10 minutes of use.  So by no means is it a fair and balanced evaluation, but nonetheless I could foresee why the average consumer could be deterred from purchasing the device at first blush.

Moving on…

And now something about that infrared sensor.  It’s tech that has long expired in terms of handheld devices.  But in the case of the Tablet S it’s a welcome feature since it transforms the touchscreen device into a giant remote control for any infrared device, such as a TV, Blu-ray player or any other home theater equipement.  Take that Apple, though you could by an IR attachment for your iPad or iPhone an accomplish a comparable feat.

Tablet S power, volume and reset buttons – click to enlarge

The Tablet S is DLNA compatible.  This means you can stream content to any DLNA compatible products sans wires. Convenient if you’re hanging with a bunch of friends and you want to show off your home movies or pictures on the big screen.  Me and store rep tested this feature out.  While he was able to transfer the pic to a TV, the setup process to connect a compatible device isn’t as simple as I hoped.  In an ideal world the tablet would walk you through the setup process as soon as you engaged the feature.  Unfortunately, based on what I saw you have to located the necessary settings menu, add the device (much like pairing a new Bluetooth device) and then return to the media you’re trying to beam.  Is this a caveat of Android or Sony’s Tablet S?  I don’t know, but it seemed to contradict the intent of DLNA, which is simplicity.

So here’s the deal.  We’re trying to get our hands on a review unit.  James has reviewed a many Android devices so he’ll be able to provide a review in respect to other Android devices on the market.  You’ll never get me to buy an Tablet S, but I’m an Apple user to the bone.  I wrote this post on a Macbook Air while listening to tunes pumping through my iPad just after receiving a call on my iPhone.  Get the point?

The Tablet S is available now for $499.99 and $599.99.  It ships in two capacities, 16GB and 32GB respectively, and can be expanded thanks to an SD card slot.

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Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."