I am not usually one for early adoption – that’s pretty obvious because in the now-multiple years that tablets have been around, I’ve stuck with my trusty laptop and poured sour-grapes scorn on the slimline slates that people incomprehensibly burn their paychecks on. Well, now I am actually getting a paycheck I have the opportunity for a spot of indulgence, and what is more indulgent than spending a few hundred pounds on a shiny new gadget?
This leads me to Monday; a day off in which I wandered down to the local Sony store and picked myself up a spangling Sony Xperia tablet. According to the man in the shop, it’s the 100th one made (and I don’t know why that makes me feel special, but it kinda does). Monday was a two birds with one stone kind of day – late adoption sliding down the same chute as those sharp-tasting fruit I mentioned.
First impressions – it’s pretty elegant. I like the curvy design of the tablet, the folded-over look (and secretly, I think I preferred the much-more-folded look of it’s predecessor but nobody else seemed to so shhhh) and I think it’s practical, too – it makes it a tad easier to hold I guess, but mainly it adds a touch of tilt on flat surfaces, making it easier to use on a table without getting neck cramp. If anything, I find it’s slightly too short – if the folded-over section was a bit longer then I wouldn’t feel my fingers were slipping over the edge of it when I held it portrait. The whole package feels well made, with one (two! there are two of them!) exception – the port covers that Sony have inexplicably 1) included and 2) made from tacky plastic and that will no-doubt 1) get lost, leaving holes in your tablet or 2) break. Win some, lose some.
Battery life is good although keeping the screen running at full brightness with wi-fi running will burn the battery down in about 10 hours. The Tablet S will take a full-sized SD card for expansion – I’ve ordered a 64Gb one for thirty quid off amazon and that brings my Xperia up to a not-unimpressive 96Gb capacity. As a bonus, the allowance for a full-sized SD means I can directly copy images off my camera on to the tablet, edit and upload them without needing adaptors or cables, which is pretty convenient.
The screen is 1280×800, which isn’t as grand as some but frankly, it’s pretty good. I don’t tend to look at screens from half an inch away and once a screen gets bigger than 5″ I don’t mind pixel densities slightly lower than a Retina (I hate fuzzy text and I read it as small as it will go, so the screen is alright). It’s bright and punchy, and video looks good and plays smoothly. I like the shortcut that lets you drag two fingers up and down the screen to adjust screen brightness, which is a pain to adjust on my S2 when it doesn’t read the lighting right. Software-wise, the Xperia comes with a few Sony apps including music and video unlimited, which appear to me to be expensive ways to get your media fixes, and a very useful mini-app function that lets you ‘float’ a resizeable small app while using another. This is usually a browser window (but can be a calculator, or remote control etc), and I’ve found it invaluable when not wanting to switch apps just to look something up. I’ve found only one serious issue – I’ve found that the Xperia S is often slow to bring up the keyboard when you want it to, especially when filling out web forms. This (and the tragic absence of the excellent Polaris Office that comes with Samsung devices) is the one frustration I have found when using what is otherwise a pretty seamless Xperience.* I’m hoping that an update will fix that soon enough.
I haven’t yet had the chance to test two of the Xperia’s headline features yet – the remote control (because I don’t currently have a TV – first paycheck doesn’t stretch that far) and the fabled Tegra 3 processor’s gaming prowess. Sadly, the internet connection in hospital accommodation is beyond awful so short of going down to Partner in Climb’s abode for the weekend and pinching her internet I won’t be downloading gigabyte games anytime soon. I am, however, looking forward to the time I get to try out the Tegra’s hyped polygon power.
Overall? How does it compare? Well, I haven’t the foggiest – I’ve never owned a tablet before. Despite that, I enjoy using the Xperia – it’s slick, it feels comfortable in the hand (and I’ve held it aloft for hours reading Kindle books on it) and it displays no noticeable lag in what admittedly has so far been rather day-to-day use. I can easily see that I’ll be bringing the tablet places rather than my rather-heavier-and-bulkier laptop, and using it more and more where firing up an actual computer just seems like too much effort. I think I am finally coming around to the side of the tablet affecianados – and perhaps I’ll adopt a bit earlier in future.
Oh, and apparently it’s splashproof. Haven’t tested that either, but I’m sure I’ll be using it in the kitchen in the not-too-distant future. Touch keyboard cover looks good too.
EDIT: Well, the splashproof thing works surprisingly well – even with droplets of water all over the screen the tablet still responds appropriately to touch (which I’m pretty impressed with considering that my phone becomes immediately unusable the instant the screen gets the tiniest drop of water on it). Makes this an excellent choice for the kitchen and recipie hunting. The remote I tried out on the mess telly last night and works exactly as you’d expect – easy to set up, and confusing for the actual holder of the remote providing you can keep your face straight. It has the ability to create macros as well, so you could touch one button to turn on your tv, sky box and sound system rather than hunting down the remotes for each.
*punny, I know.