If you want a media-focused tablet but want something more powerful and full-fledged than the 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire (*Est. $160) , experts say the Sony Tablet S is a top choice. The 9.4-inch tablet is wedge-shaped rather than using the traditional flat slate design, which critics say helps to reduce glare on the screen. The IPS display itself draws praise for its vivid colors, excellent picture quality and TruBlack technology -- though it can sometimes make the screen appear dim. Experts say the high-quality audio matches the excellence of the display, which is a rarity in tablets. Several entertainment-related Sony apps -- including music, video and PlayStation game stores, and the Sony eBook reader software -- are included; DLNA support allows you to stream content to or from other devices, such as a computer; and the tablet's IR blaster and Peel app gives it the ability to double as a universal remote.
While most critics love the Tablet S, there are some negatives. Several reviewers bemoan the lack of an HDMI port on such an entertainment-focused tablet, and the charge cord uses a proprietary Sony design rather than being based around USB. Battery life is short compared to other top tablets. Finally, even though the Tablet S has been around for a while, the content in its virtual stores is limited. If you don't want all the entertainment-related extras, critics say the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime (Discontinued) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Discontinued) Android tablets perform better overall.
Sony's customer support is robust, including numerous online help sources, a 1 year warranty and help via phone or live chat to walk you through your issues, though the hours are limited to 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Several sources rate the Sony Tablet S. PCMag.com, CNET, TheVerge.com and ComputerShopper.com are the best, offering detailed hands-on critiques of the tablet. TrustedReviews.com, TechRadar.com, About.com, Gizmodo.com and The Wall Street Journal's All Things D also cover the Tablet S, although their critiques aren't as lengthy or well-documented. Amazon.com users also weigh in with their opinions.
Sascha Segan likes the ergonomic design and built-in IR blaster, but he isn't nearly as taken with the Sony Tablet S as many other reviewers. The lack of an SD card slot and the slightly old-in-the-tooth CPU are listed as the two primary negatives.
Review: Sony Tablet S, Sascha Segan, Dec. 5, 2011
The Sony Tablet S gets a much better reception at CNET, where it lands on the publications list of the top five tablets. The ergonomic design and bevy of entertainment-related extras earn extensive praise, but the slightly dim screen and proprietary charge cord knock its rating down to Very Good.
Review: Sony Tablet S (16GB), Donald Bell, Sept. 19, 2011
3. Computer Shopper
The Sony Tablet S draws a 4.5 rating and an Editors' Choice award here. Reviewer William Harrel says the strong display coupled with myriad entertainment features make this tablet a keeper, although he wishes there was an HDMI port.
Review: Sony Tablet S Review and Ratings, William Harrel, Aug. 31, 2011
Joshua Topolsky is more reserved about the Sony Tablet S. He finds the mix of Android Honeycomb and Sony's proprietary software to be buggy and frustrating. "I didn't feel like I wanted to pick the device up and work with it -- I felt like I wanted to avoid it," he says.
Review: Sony Tablet S Review, Joshua Topolsky, Aug. 31, 2011
Gizmodo.com's review of the Sony Tablet S touches on major high points and low points, but it lacks depth compared to some other sources. Brent Rose likes the design, DLNA compatibility and low-glare screen, but he says the tablet would be more enticing if it was cheaper. Sony has since dropped its price by $100.
Review: Sony Tablet S Review: It's Good to See You Again, Sony, Brent Rose, Aug. 31, 2011
The Sony Tablet S lands on the list of TrustedReviews.com's best tablets thanks to its unusual design and multitude of entertainment-focused features, like the Sony content stores and the IR blaster. Reviewer Gordon Kelly notes that those Sony content stores aren't fully fleshed-out, however.
Review: Sony Tablet S Review, Gordon Kelly, Oct. 5, 2011
Unlike other reviews, which focus on benchmark testing and raw numbers, Walt Mossberg instead focuses on usability and design after spending considerable time with the tablet? The intriguing design and entertainment extras make the tablet worth considering, he writes.
Review: Sony Designs Tablet That's Not an iPad Wannabe, Walt Mossberg, Sept. 14, 2011
While TheVerge.com disliked the changes Sony made to the Android operating system, TechRadar.com reviewer James Stables appreciates them, along with the wedge-shaped design and content stores found in the Sony Tablet S. He gives the tablet a 4 out of 5 rating.
Review: Sony Tablet S Review, James Stables, Sept. 30, 2011
Owners of the Sony Tablet S have largely complimentary things to say at Amazon.com, where the slate carries a 4 out of 5 rating after in more than150 reviews. As with professional reviewers, the triangular design and extra features draw praise, but several users complain of buggy software and are looking forward to an upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Review: Sony SGPT111US/S Wi-Fi Tablet (16GB), Contributors to Amazon.com
About.com's Mark Kyrnin enjoys the Sony Tablet S's display, though he notes it's prone to scratching. Unlike most others, he finds the wedge-shaped tablet difficult to hold, and he wishes it had an HDMI port. Even though he loves the inclusion of the PlayStation store, Kyrnin gives the slate a 3 out of 5 star rating in this brief review. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Sony Tablet S 9.3-inch 16GB Wi-Fi Tablet Computer, Mark Kyrnin