GadgetsLab: Sony Xperia Tablet S


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  • Operating System: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • CPU: NvidiaTegra 3 quad-core processor
  • LCD: 9.4-inch 1280 x 800 TFT
  • Color LCD
  • Physical Dimension:9.45 (W) x 0.35 (H) x 6.87 (D) inches
  • Weight: 1.26lbs
  • Connectivity Options: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Memory: 10GB internal storage, expandable via SD

What’s Hot:

  • Excellent screen responsiveness
  • Good screen resolution
  • Built-in Social Life app
  • Comfortable to hold and operate

What’s Not:

  • Wi-Fi connectivity problems
  • Short battery life
  • Tinny sound coming from speakers     at full volume
  • Pricey


  • The SonyXperia Tablet S may not be as popular and as competitive as the other tablets within its price range, but it’s an option worth mulling over.

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My relationship with tablets is a bit bipolar. There are times when I want to purchase a tablet, as well as times when I realize that they’re not for me. Very few tablets have been able to convince me that I really do want one—the iPad is one device that managed to hit the spot. More recently, I included the Sony Xperia Tablet S to that list. Here’s a closer look at the device, and maybe you’ll understand why I might just consider buying it.

Packed inside the Sony Xperia Tablet S is an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core chip and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It hosts 1GB of RAM and either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage. The device doesn’t support 3G or 4G, so it relies solely on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as connectivity options.

Take a quick tour around the device and you’ll see very minimal controls, like most tablets. Upfront, there’s the 9.4-inch TFT Color LCD screen, and above it is the 1MP camera that you can use for video calls. The back of the device hosts the 8MP camera (with no LED flash in sight), while the bottom of the tablet is home to the device’s speakers and the multi-port where you can plug in the USB cable/charger or the optional keyboard dock (sold separately). On the right side of the device, you will find the power/lock button, the built-in microphone, and the volume rocker. On the left flank are the 3.5mm audio jack for your earphones and speakers, and a full-size SD card slot.

The Xperia Tablet S is a device that can take a bit of a beating. It’s shock-proof, dust-proof, and, like all new Xperia products, waterproof. Do not, however, be misled; just because Sony claims it’s waterproof doesn’t mean you can submerge it in the tub—“splash-proof” would be a more appropriate term. This means that the device is still able to operate even under dripping wet fingers. It also means that it’s safe to bring along to pool or beach parties, of which you’ll be having a ton this season.

The device is pre-loaded with various apps for gaming and browsing, but the one I appreciated the most is a clever social networking app called Social Life, where updates on all your social networking sites are consolidated into a single feed. This is pretty handy since it eliminates the need for users to log on to each site or launch each individual app just to check for updates.

This tablet has an IR emitter that allows it to act as a universal remote control for other electronic devices. It works even if your devices do not carry the Sony label, but if your device is from a brand that the device can’t recognize, you’d have to manually program it.

If you’re looking to get the Xperia Tablet S as a family tablet, then you’re in luck. The device has a nifty “Guest Mode” feature, where users can create various accounts. On these accounts, users can set up personalized configurations and select different sets of wallpapers, apps and widgets for each account. The main user or the “owner” of the device will be able to select and manage the apps that are available to each individual account. With parental controls on-board, mom and dad can ensure that the little ones only have access to safe, family-friendly content.

Performance-wise, the device manages very well. I never experienced lagging in any kind of app that I ran on the device, be it for gaming or for social networking. The device handles multi-tasking almost flawlessly. I tried keeping all my apps open at the same time and switched between them, and the tablet continued to run smoothly.

Both screen resolution and responsiveness fared superbly during my time with the device. I was able to view HD videos in impressive clarity, even if the resolution is only 1280 x 800 pixels. The screen responded to my fingers quite well; never did I have the need to prod the screen harder than normal. Ghosting was never an issue.

Like the smartphones in the Xperia line, the Xperia Tablet S uses the Walkman app as its primary music player. Sony calls the special audio technology in the Xperia Tablet S ClearAudio+, which is supposed to automatically sense track settings and adjust the sound quality accordingly. However, I didn’t really notice the change when I was listening to music with the ClearAudio+ mode on. The audio from the speakers was suitably loud at full volume, but in my opinion, the sound was excruciatingly tinny. It would have been nice to have a boomier, bassier sound.

The cameras on-deck performed well, even under low light. Though the maximum quality of photos is 8MP and videos can be taken in 720p, one should not expect anything too spectacular when it comes to video and image recording on the Xperia Tablet S.

My only major problem is how it loses the Wi-Fi connection whenever I lock the device. That’s just one thing, but it bothered me greatly. Having to re-connect the device to the wireless network every time I locked and unlocked it was incredibly annoying. Leaving the device unlocked, however, eats up all the battery life, and that’s a huge no-no for a mobile device.

Battery life was only so-so for me since I had to charge the device every day, considering that I only used it moderately. My general usage of the tablet involved mostly web browsing, light gaming and occasionally some video streaming.

The 16GB model of the device costs PHP 23,999, while the 32GB model costs PHP 28,999. The Xperia Tablet S is a far cry from other tablets within its price range, but it isn’t a bad device. Far from it, in fact. Despite flaws in its Wi-Fi connectivity and battery life, I was pleased with its overall performance in video streaming, gaming, and browsing. Screen response was what really had me sold.

Here comes the big Q: Should you get one of these babies? I wouldn’t recommend it as a first choice, but with a generally good performance, it’s definitely worth a shot.

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First Published in Gadgets Magazine, April 2013

Words by Racine Anne Castro