At long last, Sony has thrown its hat into the tablet ring, announcing two models on Tuesday code-named S1 and S2. The S1 is aimed at media consumption, while the dual-screen S2 is suited for communication (but can still play media).
Both tablets will feature responsive touch screens, Android 3.0, Wi-Fi, WAN (3G/4G), and a variety of Internet services. A "swift" Web browser promises faster loading times for Web sites on slower wireless connections (most likely borrowed technology from Opera, which has collaborated with Sony's Web browsers before). They will also be fully compatible with Adobe Flash (like other Honeycomb tablets).
The devices will become available worldwide starting in the fall.
The Sony Tablet S1 has a 9.4-inch (1,280x800) display and is reminiscent of a folded magazine. Sony says the eccentric design shifts the center of gravity to one side, giving it a lighter feel and making it more comfortable during extended use.
While the S1 runs Android 3.0, there's little doubt Sony will offer customized plug-ins for the operating system. Here, we can clearly see a "Favorites" area that aggregates several social feeds, such as Facebook and Twitter, into a magazine-style layout. To the right, there is easy access to recently added/bookmarked music, books, games, movies, pictures, and so on.
There's also a front-facing camera for video calls, presumably through Skype (which is already available on several 2011 Sony products). It's also compatible with PlayStation Suite, a newly launched service that allows consumers to play PlayStation 1 games.
The textured rear of the S1 should ensure the tablet won't easily slip out of your hands. A rear-facing camera sits near the top, and a lanyard slot is on the bottom right. The S1 also has an infrared sensor to control Bravia devices. Talk about the remote of the 21st century.
Sony Tablet S2 is a curveball for the Japanese company that could pay off if people can be convinced they need dual screens. The S2 has two 5.5-inch displays and is like a Nintendo DS on steroids. The S2 also has dual cameras--one in the front, one in the rear--like the S1.
The screens on the S2 can be used together or independently. They can also rotate to a portrait mode of sorts, allowing users to view e-books like real books.
During its official announcement, the Japanese company showed a user playing the game Crash Bandicoot with the controls on the bottom screen and the top screen displaying the game. Sony also used both screens to display a Web page.