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Sony shows off its Android tablets

Jul 13, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Sony offered the press a glimpse of its upcoming S1 and S2 tablets, which will enter an already-crowded market at an unannounced point later this year. Both run Android, but the S1 features a single 9.4-inch display, while the foldable (and pocketable) S2 features a hinge connecting a pair of 5.5-inch screens.

In a July 13 interview with CNBC (embedded at the end of this story), Sony Electronics president and COO Phil Molyneux explained that the S1 has an "off-center gravity point so it balances in your hand" and a "unique wraparound design." He then demonstrated both tablets, which are capable of syncing to Sony's e-reader, music and video hubs, but shied away from questions about pricing and exact release dates.

Sony's S1
(Click to enlarge)

The S1 will appear in the fall timeframe, with no supporting carriers mentioned so far for that device (both tablets are 3G/4G- and WiFi-compatible). Meanwhile, Sony did say AT&T will be the exclusive carrier of athe 4G-capable S2 in the United States, once the tablet is released sometime this year.

Sony had previously hinted at the device's capabilities in a short video that was high on whimsy and low on actual product detail. In April, the company offered a preliminary glimpse of the tablets, positioning its relatively late entrance into the market as a strategic move. "If I want to differentiate [our tablet] from others, do I release it tomorrow, or do I wait until I differentiate it?" Sony CEO Howard Stringer told Reuters at the time.

Sony was apparently toying with the idea of introducing 3D to the device. "Android 3.0 is a new version of the Android platform with a new holographic user interface that is designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets," Google Senior Vice President Andy Rubin wrote in a quote shoehorned into Sony's April announcement.

Sony's S2
(Click to enlarge)

According to a hands-on report from Engadget, the S1 and S2 certainly don't have 3D displays, but they do run Android 3.0 and have PlayStation gaming capabilities. The S1 is novel, however, in featuring a wedge profile designed to mimic a folded magazine, while the even-more-unusual S2 folds up and is capable of fitting into the breast pocket of a sport coat.

We additionally learned via Tweets by Technologizer editor Harry McCracken that the S1 and S2 will both feature Quick View, claimed to enable faster loading of web pages, plus software optimized for smooth scrolling. The S1 will include an infrared port so it can control TVs, McCracken adds.

In addition to the bestselling Apple iPad, the tablet market has become increasingly crowded over the past few months with Android-powered offerings from the likes of Samsung, Motorola and others. Meanwhile, rather than embrace the Android army, Research In Motion and Hewlett-Packard have released tablets running proprietary operating systems. Microsoft is planning for the next version of Windows, code-named "Windows 8," to appear in a tablet edition.

Among all those competitors, it remains to be seen whether Sony can establish a presence for itself.

Sony Electronics president and COO Phil Molyneux demonstrating the company's new tablets
Source: CNBC

Further information

Additional images and a roundup of press opinions about Sony's S1 and S2 may be found on the SlashGear website.

Nicholas Kolakowski is a writer for eWEEK. Jonathan Angel added reporting to this story.

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