NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- It's a good bet Harvard Business School is not going to be using Sony (SNY) as a case study -- at least not a positive one. All you can do is gawk at the missteps of the once-hallowed electronics giant: the ridiculously disorganized PlayStation 3 rollout, how it lost its once insurmountable position in the flat-panel TV market, its go-nowhere PC strategy, it's go-nowhere portable device wars, its synergy-free Hollywood movie strategy ... you can't make it up.But even still, a business ignores Sony at its peril. To wit, Sony's latest attempt in the tablet PC market: the Sony Tablet S ($499). It rolls out Sept. 15, and I sat down for a thorough demo with a company representative Thursday.
|Easy to hold, easy to look at and a welcome choice for business types, the S shows Sony can do something right (if not perfectly).|
The unit is a unique approach to the tablet, with some nice business features kicked in. Right up front, the S is no Apple ( AAPL) iPad. This Google ( GOOG) Android-based tablet does not have the same ultrathin design, the same fit or finish -- nor the same pain-in-the-you-know-what proprietary features. The idea with the S is to create a tablet that feels like you are carrying a magazine or thin book. There is a thicker "binding" side and a thinner "page" side. The result is a reasonably light, 1.5-pound, wedge-shaped, touch-controlled tablet about 1 inch thick on one side and a quarter-inch or so thick on the other. The thicker binding side fits comfortably in your hand so you can carry it easily as you work. And the wedge shape -- rather brilliantly, I might add -- greatly reduces glare: Park it on your desk and the design keeps the device angled just enough away from overhead lights. It's a nice, nice touch.
The Tablet S is neither as tough as you might want nor a completely business-focused solution This thing is a nice step, but it is clearly a first step. The overall enclosure was made from what felt like midgrade plastic -- kind of chintzy, to be honest. Plan on getting a protective case for this unit. Controls for volume and power were hard to use and find. And there is a real problem -- the unit has a proprietary power connector, which is inexcusable in a modern tablet. It means you have to drag around yet one more stupid connector to make this thing work. And keep in mind, this unit is consumer-based. All your business software will need to be downloaded and installed via the Android Market. If you need a proprietary mobile app, this tablet is not for you. Bottom line
I have to say, the Tablet S is not bad. It's a fresh approach to the on-the-go tablet computer. It is easy to hold, easy to look at and a welcome choice for business types seeking a mobile work solution. Just keep in mind that this is a consumer tool first and there are quirks. But overall, Sony might just have a winner on its hands with the Tablet S. All I can say is: It's about time. >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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