What to Expect From Sony’s Tablet S and Tablet P

For months people was expecting the announce of the Sony tablets, previously known as S1 and S2 in rumors. Sony finally announced them at IFA 2011, now with the (just slightly better) names of Tablet S and Tablet P. Both tablets are “Playstation Certified“, and each has an exotic design. But are these features really worth it?

Tablet S

Tablet S

Tablet S

Curves. This unusual 9.4 inches tablet running Honeycomb 3.1 seems to imitate the feeling of holding a magazine or a news paper. Personally, I’m intrigued to see what it might be like to hold.

Judging by the specs, perhaps the design will be the biggest thing separating this from its rivals:

  • 9.4 inch 1280×800 screen
  • 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 5MP rear-facing camera, 0.3MP front-facing
  • microSD storage to 32GB
  • Wi-Fi only
  • Weight: 21 ounces
  • Price: 16GB/$499 32GB

Sony made some strange decisions about this tablet – why is there no 3G version of it? Another thing Engadget noticed is that the tablet doesn’t run any media from the microSD card; you have to copy the content of it to the internal storage of the tablet itself. This may be a problem on the software end; they said the tablet given to them to test didn’t have the final software version installed, so I hope that they can fix it before release.

The tablet has two other interesting features: an IR transmitter – compatible with Sony’s home theater equipment so one can use the tablet as a giant remote control – and the same “Playstation Certified” mark as the Xperia Play, meaning it has a few Playstation games in its library.

Personally, I would rather play any Playstation game on an Xperia Play than on a touchscreen; I have similar games on my Android, and it’s okay to use the touchscreen buttons, but for some games – like fighting games – it’s pretty hard to play without hardware buttons to feel the “feedback”. Perhaps if Sony make the tablet compatible with Playstation’s controllers it’d pique my interest.

Tablet P

Tablet P

Tablet P

As with its big brother, the Tablet P has an exotic design. It’s very similar to the Nintendo DS/3DS, made up of two screens, each one with 5.5 inches, inside a beautiful curved shell. The Tablet P seems more elegant than Tablet S, and should be very useful for reading (it can show two pages of the book you’re reading – one on each screen), and writing emails (or writing anything else, as it loads the keyboard on the bottom screen), and will perhaps give a better Playstation experience, since, as with the system keyboard, it loads the controller for the game on the bottom screen.

I feel strange calling it a Tablet. It looks like a new media gadget rather than a tablet; for gaming it probably will be strange if not using the games designed specifically for it. If the non-PlayStation games spread their interfaces across both screens, there’ll be a “gap” between the two screens with no content; and if it uses only one, it will seem to be useless having two screens. Same applies for other apps: the “tablet” is very specific, it needs apps that are optimized for two screens, and as it isn’t a common design, I doubt a developer will optimize his app just for one specific handheld.

Aside from the notable design, it is pretty much the same as the Tablet S, but without the IR transmitter.

The specs:

  • Two 5.5 inch screens
  • 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 5MP rear-facing camera, 0.3MP front-facing
  • 4GB internal memory
  • Full-size SD Card slot (for media exchange only)
  • Wi-Fi + 4G
  • AT&T Exclusive
  • Weight: 13 ounces
  • Open – 6.22l x 7.08w x 0.53h (inches)
  • Closed – 3.11l x 7.08w x 1.02h (inches)
  • £499

Strangely, the Tablet P has 4G support. Of course this isn’t a bad thing, but its strange that the “real tablet” doesn’t have the support, while this one does. And the price is very high – iPad 2 is £100 less than it – how does Sony aim to compete with Apple by making an overpriced, unusual tablet?

Let’s Wait and See

Both tablets are very different from the other Android tablets, and have the right specs – not too much or too little – but I’m concerned. Sony waited too long to release their first tablets, and they seem to call more attention on their unusualness than their quality. Would either of them be your next tablet?

The feature I was most interested in was the so-called “Playstation Compatibility”, but after reading more about the user experience, I’m really not excited about it.

They’re both strangely beautiful, and the specs are what I would expect from a tablet, but the differentiating features – aside from the design – don’t really float my boat.