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Tablet S: The Layout

Sony Tablet S Review: The Media Enthusiast's Dream Tablet
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Left Side: Headphone, microUSB, SD card, SpeakerLeft Side: Headphone, microUSB, SD card, Speaker

On the left side of the tablet, you'll find ports for your headphones and USB devices. Though, if you want to connect an external hard drive or thumb drive with a full-sized USB port, you need a cable that converts microUSB to the standard USB A plug. Without that adapter, the port only serves to enable USB debugging mode in Honeycomb.

Sony doesn't include drivers that support the native Android Debug Bridge for Android's SDK, though, which means you need to perform a manual modification for Windows to recognize the tablet (a necessary step if you want to take screenshots on it).

  1. Turn on "USB debugging" in Sony Tablet S
  2. In Windows, put following device descriptions into the [Google.NTx86] and [Google.NTamd64] sections of extrasgoogleusb_driverandroid_winusb.inf:
    SONY Sony Tablet P
    %CompositeAdbInterface%     = USB_Install, USBVID_054C&PID_04D2&MI_01
    SONY Sony Tablet S
    %CompositeAdbInterface%     = USB_Install, USBVID_054C&PID_05B4&MI_01
  3. Add 0x54c into the .android/adb_usb.ini file in the Home directory by using following command from the shell prompt.
    In Windows:
    echo 0x54c>>%HOMEPATH%.androidadb_usb.ini
    In OS X:
    echo "0x54c" >> $HOME/.android/adb_usb.ini
  4. In Windows: Restart. Plug in the tablet, and when driver installation fails, select "Have Disk" under "Device Manager." Select the driver named "Composite Adb Interface."

Right Side: Speaker, Volume & Power ButtonsRight Side: Speaker, Volume & Power Buttons

Getting back on topic, all of the tablet's buttons are located on the right side. Sony wisely chose to recess them on the groove's upper lip, which prevents them from getting pressed accidentally. Our only quibble is with their small size, since it's difficult to know whether turning the volume up or down while looking at the screen.

The power adapter is a disappointment. Many competing tablets (A500, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Transformer, and Xoom) employ a power brick that plugs straight into a wall wart. Sony instead uses a power adapter with a built-in extension cable. Though not a big deal if you come back to a docking cradle every night, the power supply is less convenient to pack away for a business trip. Moreover, the dock doesn't even add any additional connectivity to the Tablet S.

BottomBottom

It's difficult to see in the picture below, but the microphone is a pin-sized hole in the center of the back-side. The IR data port is just to the right of it (the left, if you're looking at the picture). And thus, the remote control functionality will only work with the thick end of the tablet pointed away from you. Remember that infrared communication requires line-of-sight.

TopTop

The front-facing camera on the Tablet S is similar to the iPad 2's. But the rear-facing hardware is substantially better. Unfortunately, it's missing a flash, limiting its utility in dimly-lit environments. That's a bummer because Sony's tablet is nearly on-par with other compelling competitors. Acer's Iconia A500 is a good example; the Acer at least gives you a single-LED flash, though.

Camera
Front-Facing
Rear-Facing
Flash
Apple iPad 2
0.3 MP (640 x 480)0.7 MP (960 x 720)None
Acer Iconia A500
2.0 MP (1600 x 1200)5.0 MP (2592 x 1944)Single-LED flash
Asus Transformer
1.2 MP (1024 x 768)5.0 MP (2592 x 1944)None
Motorola Xoom
2.0 MP (1600 x 1200)5.0 MP (2592 x 1944) Dual-LED flash
Motorola Xoom Family Edition
1.3 MP (640 x 480)5.0 MP (2592 x 1944) Single-LED flash
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
2.0 MP (1600 x 1200)3.0 MP (2048 x 1536)Single-LED flash
Sony Tablet S
0.3 MP (640 x 480)5.0 MP (2592 x 1944) None
Toshiba Thrive
2.0 MP (1600 x 1200)5.0 MP (2592 x 1944)None
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