Everything You Need to Know About the Sony Tablet S

Sony Tablet S
Sony Tablet S. Image © Sony

With so many options on the market, including various iterations of the iPad, how do you know which tablet is the right one for you? The fact is that familiarity can be a huge factor in terms of how we choose to embrace a new technology. Advertisers call it brand loyalty (and Apple has built an empire on it), but one of the main reasons so many people stick with the same company for their new computer, car, or television through multiple models is because they are familiar with what the company has done for them in the past.

Sometimes just an interface with which you can relate makes a decision easier. Welcome PlayStation fans to the Sony Tablet S, the first Playstation tablet, a well-designed and technically impressive machine that wants to be there for you to seamlessly transition from console to tablet. Got a PS3, PS4 and a Sony PlayStation Vita (and head to this beautiful complete guide for more details on the Vita) and are considering adding a tablet to your arsenal of toys? The Sony Tablet S is a smart way to go.

The PSN In Your Hands

Not only will you be able to use the same wallet, username, and password that you do on the PlayStation Network (or on the Sony Entertainment Network online) to build your library on your Sony Tablet S, but many of the interfaces you've become accustomed to as a gamer are in play here. Use Video Unlimited on your PS3 to watch movies? You can use the exact same service to do so on your tablet.

Like Music Unlimited through your PlayStation 3 for the latest tunes? It's here too (and the machine even comes with a six-month free trial). In fact, you can even use the Sony Tablet S to interface with your TV, stereo, and other devices, serving as a universal remote control for your entire system.

It truly is designed to seamlessly integrate into any home already using a Sony PlayStation 3.

A Tablet For Gamers

Being the first PlayStation certified tablet comes with something most important to PS3 fans -- games. Right out of the box, the machine comes equipped with "Crash Bandicoot" and a title custom-made for a handheld machine, "Pinball Heroes." I'm not yet convinced that old-fashioned platformers like "Crash" really work without a controller (and my download experience with "MediEvil" didn't help) but titles that can be easily played with the touch screen like "Heroes" are perfect for a machine like this one. If you're not familiar, the game takes classic Sony titles like "Pain," "Hot Shots," and "Uncharted" and turns them into pinball tables. Tapping the touch screen to flip controllers is clever and fun.

To be fair, the gaming experience on the Sony Tablet S is relatively limited. There are the apps that will be familiar to Android users (the machine offers complete access to the Android market) along with PlayStation games like "Hot Shots Golf" and "Cool Boarders." As I mentioned, I downloaded both "MediEvil" and "CB" but found both hard to use without a controller or motion control.

Tapping one place on the screen to move in a direction and another to jump might just be a skill set that I have yet to develop adequately but I would consider my PS3 and Vita my toys for gaming and my Sony Tablet S a toy with a very different purpose.

Too Many Movies, Not Enough Time

What purpose is that? This is an entertainment machine -- a tablet that truly makes the case that your cable bill, library card, and Netflix account could soon become obsolete. With a beautiful display called TruBlack, the image for movies and TV shows is crisp, clean, and nearly flawless. The TruBlack panel controls the light between the LCD and the screen and the image really can be amazing at times. To play around with its potential, I watched some films in my UltraViolet library online (although had more difficulty getting that going than I should have given that I was trying to watch a Sony movie -- "Moneyball") and downloaded a film (the recent remake of "Mother's Day") and an episode of a TV show (the season finale of "Family Guy"). All of them played without flaw, running smoothly even as the machine was also notifying me of incoming mail at the same time. They ran as seamlessly as if they were downloaded to my PS3 and watched on a widescreen television.

As much of the tablet craze has been born from the Kindle and a desire to read on the road, I had to test the eReader functionality as well and noticed no problems at all here either. Pages turn smoothly, the store is well-stocked (and price competitive), and, once again, the display is beautiful. There's litle to no glare. I could read a book on my porch during a sunny day.

A Few Minor Delays

What are the problems? Sometimes the wifi was a little less than perfect and even unresponsive. The machine easily goes into sleep mode when not plugged in and would drop its connection to my wifi even while it was in the middle of downloading a film. Of course, the app library for Android isn't what it is for Apple and so you may be accustomed to some apps on your iPhone that you can't play with here (although that's not a problem specific to the Tablet). And, as I mentioned, I still don't quite see these machines as gamer-friendly as the Vita or other handhelds designed purely for gaming. I don't see the Tablet S replacing a PS3 or Vita when it comes to games but could easily do so for watching TV or checking out a flick.

Bottom Line -- Who Needs Cable Any More?

They may seem like expensive machines, but how much are you paying a month for cable that you use with decreasing frequency? Being a movie nut, I know I would build my library quickly with a Sony Tablet S and the increased use of UltraViolet technology with Blu-ray purchases could make this machine the best way to access your online movie catalog. With a massive library of books, movies, and TV shows, entertainment junkies could easily use their Sony Tablet S as more than just a tablet, almost replacing their TV and laptop. One machine designed for PS3 lovers that can replace your library, laptop, and television? Welcome to the Sony Tablet S.

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Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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