Sony announces the launch of its notepad-like, Android-based Sony Tablet S in September and the clamshell, dual-screen Tablet P, also running Android, later this year.
Sony says it will ship two
Android Honeycomb tablets in the coming weeks: the Sony Tablet S with an
innovative fold-over look in September, and the Tablet P with a dual-screen
clamshell design by the end of 2011.
The 9.4-inch, 1,280x768-pixel
touch-screen of the Tablet S (code-named S1) resembles a pad of paper with
sheets folded over. Sony has begun preorders for the $499 6GB and 32GB $599
Tablet S models. It has yet to release pricing for the Tablet P (code-named
Sony first revealed
details of the Honeycomb tablets
on April 26 and officially launched the
products Aug. 31 at the 2011 IFA conference in Berlin.
The Tablet P's folding
clamshell look resembles that of the Kyocera Echo smartphone and Nintendo DS
portable video game system. The Tablet P features two 5.5-inch LCDs (top and
bottom) that can display separately or in one combined screen. When used
separately, the screens can be used like an e-book reader with pages to the
left and right. Or you can use a virtual keyboard on one side with the screen
on the other.
Both tablets run the Google
Android "Honeycomb" operating system. The Tablet S runs Android 3.1,
and the Tablet P will operate on Android 3.2 when it ships. Motorola Xoom and
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets also run the Honeycomb OS.
With these new Android tablets, Sony
officials say they aim to become the No. 2 tablet maker
behind the popular
Apple iPad. Sony executives had reportedly dropped hints back in May 2010 that
the company was eyeing the tablet market.
To pass Apple, Sony will first need to compete with Samsung,
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, noted in an e-mail to eWEEK.
"Another Apple clone has to first take out the Samsung
Galaxy Tab, and typically these days, when Sony and Samsung bump heads,
Samsung wins," Enderle wrote.
"I really doubt we'll see any of the iPad clone designs, including this one, do very well until Google can get Ice Cream
Sandwich out the door," he added. "Honeycomb is just too limited."
The company's entry into the
tablet space comes a few weeks after HP announced it will discontinue its webOS
TouchPad tablet and Google announced it will buy Android handset maker Motorola
The new Sony tablets feature
cloud-based services for video games, books and music. Sony will offer
downloads of up to 10 million songs from its Music Unlimited service starting
in October. Meanwhile, users can choose among 2.5 million book titles that they
can download to the tablet from the Sony Reader store, the company reports. The
units can also serve as a PlayStation gaming unit. Plus, the tablets have
cameras on both the front and back of the units for still pictures and video
Sony is looking to combine the
use of the Tablet S and Tablet P with some of its other entertainment products.
They can share video with HDTVs, such as Sony's Bravia models, and beam music
wirelessly to speakers, including the company's HomeShare models. The tablets
also feature an infrared emitter to serve as a programmable remote control for
other consumer electronics devices.
The Android tablets both
support WiFi connectivity and the Tablet P will run 4G on AT&T's mobile
broadband network. In addition, the tablets run Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 CPU.
Mobile devices such as the Samsung
Galaxy R smartphone
also run the Tegra 2 chip, which can ably handle videos
Additional features the
tablets will offer include a three-axis accelerometer and a gyro sensor, which
is used to detect rotation.