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Sony brings two tablets to town, one you can fold up and put away

We’ve known that Sony was bringing out tablets later this year, but detail from the Japanese consumer electronics company, shows that it plans to do s

By PETER WHITE

Published: 28 April, 2011

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We’ve known that Sony was bringing out tablets later this year, but detail from the Japanese consumer electronics company, shows that it plans to do some rethinking in the tablet space, unlike Motorola and Samsung, who seem to have mostly copied the look and feel of the iPad, instead Sony is coming at it from a different angle.

For about three years we’ve been waiting for a device which hinges, rather like a Nintendo DS, offering two touch screens, so that a single image can be shown across both, but so that one can be a touch keyboard and the other a viewing screen like a mini laptop. The idea came out of a concept device made by ASUS, which it never followed up on. Now Sony says that one of the two tablets it will first bring to market includes such a design – it’s a shame that the screen will be just 5.5 inches but the keyboard can also be software configured to be a PlayStation controller, so we can see why it has gone after this size.

Sony plans to bring tablets out by the fall of 2011, just 5 or 6 months away, codenamed the S1 and S2 tablets, with the other tablet rather like an iPad, with an asymmetric design, where the keyboard side of the tablet is thinner so that it sits on a desk in a wedge shape, for better viewing and typing than an iPad.

Both devices sport the Android 3.0 operating system with the S1 being optimized for rich media entertainment and the S2 designed for mobile communication and entertainment. Both tablets will have variants with WiFi and with 3G and 4G connections. They will work with both Qriocity, the Sony media network and the PlayStation Network and also Android Market.

Back in February Sony went ahead and released the Xperia Play PlayStation class phone, which embraced both Android and the PlayStation market with a software license scheme for PlayStation gaming called the PlayStation Suite. This has been ported to these tablets so we presume that they use the same CPU chip, likely a Qualcomm SnapDragon, probably the same one as was used in the phone, with a 1GHz processor, with more power to come as Qualcomm delivers more dual core devices (actually dual core chips may be ready by the time these ship so perhaps that’s what is it waiting for).

The very first time we saw a portable browser worth using wasn’t on the iPhone, or the iPad, but was in fact, several year earlier when the PlayStation Portable first came out. Sony of all companies has the skill to pull off something like the folding tablet, in the process protecting its portable gaming franchise.

The Sony S1 is far more conventional and has a 9.4-inch display and it claims that its off-center gravity design makes it more stable and easier to grip.

“We’re aiming to create a new lifestyle by integrating consumer hardware, including ‘Sony Tablet’ with content and network,” said Kunimasa Suzuki, Corporate Executive, SVP, and Deputy President of Consumer Products & Services Group.

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