updated 02:35 am EDT, Tue April 26, 2011
Sony unveils two Android tablets to take on iPad
(Update: video added) Sony has unveiled two new tablets running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) to take on Apple's iPad. The first is the formal unveiling of the previously leaked 9.4-inch Sony S1 with its distinctive curved top, shaped like a magazine that has been folded open. It is powered by the Nvidia Tegra 2 and features Sony's customized "Quick and Smooth" panel-based UI and its new "Swift" mobile Web browser.
The S1's design will remind iPad users of the iPad in a case set for "typing mode," and Sony says the design enhances stability and improves grip by changing the "torque" and putting the weight at the "top" of the design, though it can be used either horizontally or vertically - similar to the way people hold a folded-over magazine (or an iPad in a folio-style case). The S1 also features infrared technology to allow it to be used to control various AV devices, including Sony's own Bravia line. Through the use of DLNA technology, users can "throw" content they are watching or listening to on the tablet over to HDTV or wireless speakers.
The second tablet, the Sony S2, is an intriguing dual-screen clamshell design. It features two high-resolution 5.5-inch screens at 1,024x480 pixels. Like the S1, it also runs a Tegra 2, but incorporates just one rear facing camera versus the S1's two cameras. The two screens give the device the flexibility to use them in different ways simultaneously. The email app, for example, utilizes the bottom screen for the keyboard while the top shows the message. It too is PlayStation Certified, like its stablemate, and will also support 3G and 4G networks.
Both models are aimed more at entertainment consumption, but come with all the abilities of Android 3.0 including web browsing and e-mail, with the added benefit of access to Sony's premium cloud-based networks of various content, including Sony's Reader store for e-books, the Qriosity network for music and video services, and the PlayStation Suite, which allows users to buy and play first-generation PlayStation games.
Kunimasa Suzuki, Sony's head of personal computers said that they new tablets will be available globally this fall, although the US could see them slightly sooner. He also stated that Sony aims to win second place in the tablet currently dominated by iPad, which is expected to be worth $49 billion by 2015.