We've got the retail version of the Sony Tablet S Android Honeycomb 3.2 tablet in house, and all I can say is what a difference a few weeks make. Early review units sent out at the end of August and even in-store demo units lacked the final apps that help set the Sony Tablet apart in the crowded Honeycomb space. Of course, its unique folded-magazine wedge shape do plenty to set it apart too. The final tablet has working versions of key Sony apps like the Sony Reader for eBooks, Crackle and Chumby (remember the Sony Dash?). And at first boot, the tablet downloads the update to Honeycomb 3.2, so you've got the latest, greatest Google has to offer.
We really like the industrial design; this is a light tablet that's very easy to hold. Even after 45 minutes of reading, we didn't suffer hand or arm fatigue, and gaming with accelerometer based games like Riptide GP was much more enjoyable. Though made of plastic, we found the back and sides to be sturdy (the tablet accidentally tackled a wooden door jamb, and the door jamb lost).
Sony, like HTC with the Jetstream tablet and to a less extent Samsung with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 running the TouchWiz update, has customized the UI in a good way. It adds lovely tweaks that make the tablet feel more livable. Performance is also very good on the release version of this tablet. It not only felt very snappy but its Quadrant benchmark score increased to 2,023.
The Sony has a 9.4" Trublack display with excellent viewing angles and rich colors, but it's not the brightest. It runs on the usual 1GHz dual core Tegra 2 CPU with a gig of RAM, and is available with 16 gigs of storage for $499 and 32 gigs for $599. It has WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth and a GPS. There's a rear 5MP camera and a VGA front video chat camera. Sony says a 3G version is coming, but we don't know when. The Sony Tablet S has an IR blaster remote and the best home AV remote control software we've seen.
The tablet has USB host, is Playstation certified and a full size SD card slot: good going, Sony. The tablet lacks the usual HDMI port: bad going, Sony.
Here's our 30 minute in-depth video review. We compare it to the iPad 2, Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Asus Eee Pad Transformer. We check out Sony's UI customizations, test gaming (including Playstation games), explore the ebook reader and much more.