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Sony Xperia Tablet S vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Comparison Smackdown
      09/13/12 04:42 PM

In this Android tablet comparison smackdown, the newcomer Sony Xperia Tablet S takes on last month's wunderkind, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Both tablets are in the 10" class, have quad core CPUs, 1280 x 800 displays, IR blasters with AV remotes and they run Android OS 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. Both are promised upgrades to OS 4.1 Jelly Bean, with no announced date. Both are relatively light and are slim. The 16 gig Sony sells for $399, while the Galaxy Note 10.1 sells for $499 (you're paying more for the Wacom active digitizer and pen, which is pricy technology). The price gap narrows when you move up to 32 gigs, with the Sony costing $499 and the Samsung $549.

Design and Ergonomics

Sony cut back on the shiny plastics and increased aluminum real estate for an improved look. The folded magazine design is very ergonomic, particularly in portrait mode and we like it a lot. The Xperia Tablet S has a unique look. The 9.4" size makes for a somewhat smaller and more hand friendly tablet without reducing resolution.

Samsung's tablet looks much like every other rectangular tablet on the market. Moving the speakers to the front was a stroke of design brilliance, but beyond that, this isn't the most exciting or innovative looking product on the market. We like the look in white: it's clean and modern. The gray version excites us less, but looks are subjective. Like most Samsung products, the Note 10.1 doesn't shy away from advertising its plastics.

Winner: Sony Xperia Tablet S


The Sony Xperia Tablet S has the quad core 1.4GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 with 12 cores of GeForce graphics goodness. That's the de facto standard for higher and Android tablets and it offers plenty of speed. The tablet has a gig of RAM.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 runs on Samsung's new quad core 1.4GHz Exynos CPU with Mali 400 graphics. As of this moment, this is the fastest CPU/GPU combo and tablet on the market. It scores significantly higher on Quadrant, GLBenchmark and Sunspider. The tablet has 2 gigs of DDR3 RAM.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1


Both tablets have better than average 1280 x 800 displays. The Samsung uses PLS, which is Samsung's answer to IPS displays. Colors are bold and contrast is very good. It's a pleasant display for watching videos and text clarity is good, though obviously not as sharp as the small handful of full HD tablets on the market.

Sony uses their TruBlack 9.4" display here, as they did with the first gen Tablet S. To our eye, the new model has less glare and we suspect Sony redesigned the protective plastic layer that sits over the screen. This is a very vibrant yet natural looking display and we just love it for watching video. Flesh tones are warm and realistic. Contrast is excellent but not overbearing and cold. Given the small increase in pixel density compared to 10.1" displays running at the same resolution, text looks sharper and we didn't pine for the Asus Transformer Infinity TF700's 1920 x 1200 display when reading web page text and eBooks.

Winner: Sony Xperia Tablet S

Art, Drawing and Note-Taking

Not even a contest. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 with its Wacom active digitizer and digital pen that offers 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity wins. Yes, you can use a capacitive stylus with the Sony, but it's more akin to finger-painting given the lack of precision and pressure sensitivity.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Software and Related Features

Once again, Samsung takes the lead, though we really enjoy Sony's software on the Xperia Tablet S. In fact, Sony's software like the AV Remote (best of breed), Crackle Movies (that works more reliably on the Tablet S than other tablets in our tests), music and video streaming services and gaming apps set the Xperia ahead of most Android tablets. There's lots to do with the tablet out of the box.

But Samsung's side-by-side split screen multi-tasking for 6 built in apps, excellent S Note application with handwriting and formulat recognition and selection of floating apps set it apart and ahead of every other tablet on the market, including the new iPad. You can even watch a video in a floating resizable window anywhere. You'd think those cutting edge features would decrease stability, but the Note 10.1 has been one of the most stable and consistently quick Android tablets we've tested.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1


We don't usually put much emphasis on tablet cameras, given the device's less than ergonomic form factor for photography. But the Sony Xperia Tablet S camera is so good, we just had to mention it. The 8 megapixel rear camera takes excellent photos (think Xperia Ion- Sony knows how to make mobile cameras). It can shoot 1080p video that's sharp, colorful and not jerky or blocky. Great stuff.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 has a serviceable 5 megapixel camera that's competent but not remarkable. It shoots 720p video.

Winner: Sony Xperia Tablet S

There are plenty of additional points of comparison. Hunker down and watch our Sony Xperia Tablet S vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Comparison Smackdown to get them all.


Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review

Sony Xperia Tablet S Review

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 Review

All Android Tablet Reviews


Lisa Gade
Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview

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