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Internally, the Sony Tablet S sports the same kind of hardware found with its brethren – like its dual-core 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor coupled with 1GB of RAM. Of course, it operates at a good pace with most basic tasks, but things take a sharp decline as we experience an unprecedented amount of choppiness when processor intensive live wallpapers are activated. Still, it exhibits some fluid looking visuals with its operation when static wallpapers are used instead. Shocking us for the first time, we’re amazed that we’re no longer presented with choppy movements when navigating its homescreen in portrait, which seems to be addressed with Android 3.2 Honeycomb. Sure it has some slowdown, but we’re not all that heartbroken since it moves at a reasonable pace for the most part.

Out of the box, the tablet is loaded with Android 3.1 Honeycomb, but a software update quickly brings it up to version 3.2. With that, the first thing we notice is the improved operation in portrait with the homescreen. In addition, non-optimized tablet apps are able to scale properly to fit the real estate of the display. For the most part, Sony has kept a faithful stock Honeycomb experience, which is riddled with the usual high level of personalization, but we fully enjoy the subtle customizations that we find.

On the homescreen, there are some tiny icons positioned in the upper left that give us quick access to the web browser, email, remote control, and Sony eReader app. Furthermore, there’s this “Favorites” icon near the app panel icon that transplants us into this cool looking paneled interface with grids that aggregate some of the specified favorite content of the tablet. Lastly, the app panel also receives a major makeover as it employs this shimmering light theme with its grid-like formation. All in all, we’re enamored by the additional customizations that Sony has done on top of stock Honeycomb. It’s not in your face like Sense or TouchWiz, but rather, it’s subtle enough to add some luster to an already shining experience.

Organizer and Messaging:

With the core organizer apps, Sony didn’t do anything drastic with their layouts or presentations – and instead, they basically kept the stock approach. For things like the calculator and calendar, they look and operate as they normally do on any Honeycomb device, but the desk clock app has a slight minimalistic and Metro-ish appearance.

Using either email or Gmail apps, they’re arranged in the same familiar two-panel layout as before – giving as a peek to our inbox on the left, while content is displayed on the right. Setup is always a breeze since it mainly requires our email address and password to set up generic account properly. In some instances though, it may require additional information to completely set up.

Gone is the stock Honeycomb keyboard, which we’re normally accustomed to using, and instead, we find Sony’s own home brewed option. Seeing that the Sony Tablet S sports a smaller sized display versus its larger 10.1” counterparts, the layout of its keyboard is  reduced – thus, scrunching up the already tiny looking buttons.

Unfortunately, it’s not as responsive as we’d like, as it has some difficulty in keeping up with our rate. Not only that, but our overall speed is reduced because we need to access a different layout to input numbers and punctuations. Interestingly, there’s a different layout that adds a keypad on the right side whenever we input text into password fields. Lastly, the portrait option is easy to use despite the slow response, since our thumbs are able to encompass the entire layout with very little travel.

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