Sony Xperia Tablet Features Microsoft Surface-Like Keyboard Cover: Report

Images of a Sony Xperia Tablet, said to be from leaked internal Sony documents, show a considerably slimmed-down tablet with a keyboard-cover that flatters the Microsoft Surface.

The Apple iPad has inspired an industry full of copy-cat devices. Microsoft's Surface tablet, however, features a design that so notably stands apart that now it, too, has been honored with the highest form of flattery.

The Verge, via the German news site Mobiflip, has posted documents said to be leaked from an internal Sony slide show. The documents show an Xperia Tablet, a follow-up to the Sony Tablet S. While both tablets feature Sony's unique folded-magazine design, the new tablet has been paired with a keyboard-slash-cover that's a close cousin to the keyboard cover Microsoft showed off for its Surface tablets.

Setting them apart, the patent lawyers may be quick to point out, is the folding nature of the Sony's cover, which steps in for the kickstand on the Surface.

A caption on the purportedly leaked slide, likely not written by an English major, notes, "A slim and lightweight stylish cover to protect the screen and enhances customer's productivity with a built-in keyboard."

It's important, a second caption adds, to showcase the tablet with the keyboard case "at retail to attach rates."

Also instantly notable is that Sony has made this second version thinner and lighter€”42 percent thinner, according to a slide. While the Tablet S was 20.55mm at its thickest point and 10.1mm at its thinnest, the new Xperia is 11.85 and 8.8mm, respectively. It's so thin, in fact, that its physique is now more "10 sheets of paper folded over a yellow-ruled tablet" than "folded magazine."

The splash-proof tablet has also been updated with a Tegra 3 processor, Google's Android 4.0 "or later," 3G connectivity and a battery likely to be good for 10 hours of use over WiFi. The Xperia Tablet is expected to be offered in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options, with respective price points of $449.99, $549.99 and $649.99€”each knocking $50 off similar storage models of the Apple iPad.

The cover, the documents show, will come in a variety of colors€”aqua, fuchsia, red, yellow, taupe, white and black€”both with the keyboard option, for $79.99, and without, for $59.99. Additional accessories, including a docking and speaker stand, will also be offered.

The slide show goes on to detail "key experiences"€”watch, listen, play, create, connect, discover€”that Sony intends for the tablet to extend to users. Further, its goal for the Xperia family is for its smartphone to "own the mobile space," and its tablet to "own the living room."

On June 24, AT&T added the Xperia ion smartphone to its lineup, pricing the rather decked-out LTE phone at $99.99. It features a 4.6-inch HD Reality Display with a Mobile Bravia Engine€”a technology borrowed from its extensive television experience and said to offer "unbeatable HD viewing."

Sony also set the phone apart by launching it with SmartTags€”small, programmable near-field communication (NFC) tags similar to the TecTiles Samsung introduced with the Galaxy S III.

While the phone currently ships with the Gingerbread version of Android, a July 32 post on the Sony blog says that "we'll be bringing you more on our Ice Cream Sandwich rollout for Xperia P and other 2012 Xperia smartphones over the next couple of weeks."

Sony will face plenty of challenges in its quest to own the mobile space, many of them coming from Samsung and Apple. But surely, the goal is a necessary one. As Simon Leung, Microsoft's CEO for the China region, recently told reporters, "Having a goal to be No. 2 is not really a goal."