Which tablet should I buy? iPad 2 vs Sony Tablet S

Computerworld Australia reviews the iPad 2 and Sony Tablet S

Sony’s two recently unveiled tablets, the Tablet S and Tablet P, are rumoured to become the first real competitors to Apple’s iPad and iPad 2. The Tablet S will be introduced into the Australian market at the end of October, and is available for pre-order on 28th September. The dual-screen Tablet P is expected to launch sometime next year.

See Which tablet should I buy? iPad vs Xoom.

Here we compare Sony’s Tablet S with Apple’s iPad 2.

The Tablet S will be available in 16GB and 32GB versions, like the Apple iPad; however, the iPad 2 also offers a 64GB option. The Tablet S 16GB version will sell for $579 and the 32GB for $689, cheaper than the iPad 2 equivalents, which are priced at $729 and $839 respectively.

While the iPad 2 is run on iOS 4.3, the Tablet S will run on Android 3.1 (Honeycomb), a platform designed specifically for tablets. Tablet S users will be able to upgrade to the Android 3.2 platform when it becomes available.

The Android 3.2 will introduce a new compatibility zoom mode that gives users a new to way to view fixed-sized apps on larger devices, linking adequately with the Tablet S’s Infrared Remote.

The Tablet S, like the iPad 2, has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, but Sony’s tablet has introduced the Infrared Remote (IR). This built-in remote allows IT executives to control and connect to their TV, Blu-Ray players, and stereo systems.

DNLA technology allows the Tablet S to ‘throw’ personal content such as video, images and music to compatible TV’s or wireless speakers, perfect for business meetings. The Tablet S also contains a USB port, allowing easy accessibility to a number of other media.

The iPad 2’s processor is the 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 while the Tablet S uses a NVIDIA Tegra 2 mobile processor with Dual Core ARM Cortext –A9 CPU. The Dual-core ARM Cortext-A9 CPU is the world’s first dual-core CPU, which allows faster web browsing and response time, and is the first mobile CPU with out of order execution allowing for more efficient processing and a better overall performance.

The new Sony tablet is 10 grams lighter than the iPad 2, weighing 598 grams. The Tablet S is similarly sized to the iPad with a 9.4 inch display, but unlike other competing tablets, it is differently shaped to the iPad. It is wedge-shaped, imitating a magazine that has been folded over.

This design allows the device to be held over a long period of time and its wedge shape makes it feel extra light in one hand. When set down, the shape allows easy angling for typing. The Tablet P is smaller, has two screens and is opened like a book. While reading e-Books on the Tablet P, the two screens show pages on both sides.

The Tablet S 9.4 inch display includes a capacitive touch panel and 10-point detection and TruBlack display. TruBlack controls and lessens reflections from sunlight or bright light for high contrast and visibility allowing strain free use indoors and outdoors. This is an improvement on the iPad 2, which has received complaints regarding reflections making use difficult outdoors.

Battery life in the two tablets are similar, with the Tablet S having a Li-ion 5000mAh battery that offers 8 hours usage, while the 25 watt hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery in the iPad 2 offers up to 10 hours life on its Wi-Fi version and 9 hours on its 3G and Wi-Fi version.

Like the iPad 2, the Tablet S contains front and rear cameras. The Tablet S and iPad 2 both have VGA-quality cameras on the front and 5 megapixel cameras that can also record 720p video at the rear.

While the Tablet S and the iPad 2 share many similarities, some of the innovative specifications and new features of the Tablet S are rearing it up to become one of the first major competitors to the iPad 2. Only time (and sales) will tell.

Apple iPad 2 vs Sony Tablet S: Specs

iPad 2 Tablet S
Size 241.2mm x 185.7mm
Platform iOS 4 and later Android 3.1 (Honeycomb), to be upgradeable to Android 3.2
Weight WiFi (603.277g) WiFi 3G (607.813g) 598 grams
Storage 16GB, 32GB, 64GB 16GB, 32GB
Wireless & cellular Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology, UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz) WiFi (b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, Infrared (IR) Remote
Display 9.7 inches (diagonal), LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology. 1024 by 768 pixel resolution at 132ppi 9.4 inches capacitive touch panel, 10 points detection TruBlack display (controls and reduces glare and reflections from sunlight or fluorescent light for high contrast and visibility for strain free use indoors or outdoors)
Processor 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip NVIDIA Tegra 2 mobile processor with Dual Core ARM Cortext –A9 CPU
Camera, photos & video recording Back camera: video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio, still camera with 5x zoom; front camera: video recording, VGA up to 30 frames per second with audio, VGA-quality still camera Face focus VGA camera (front), 5.0 megapixel camera (rear)
Power & battery Built-in 25 watt hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, up to 10 hours (9 hours 3G), charging via power adapter or USB to computer system Li-ion 5000mAh,8 hours based on standard usage

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

This article is also available in Indonesian: Perbandingan antara iPad 2 dan Sony Tablet S.

This article is also available in Simplified Chinese: 我该购买哪种平板电脑? iPad 2 与索尼 Tablet S 的对决.

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