After months of rumors, Sony has unveiled its first tablet devices, which it hopes will challenge Apple’s dominance in the tablet market, at a press event in Japan yesterday.
The new Sony tablets identified, for now, by the code names S1 and S2 will be powered by the latest Android 3.0 operating system and are Wi-Fi and WAN (3G/4G) compatible, Kunimasa Suzuki, deputy president of the consumer products and services group, told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Both devices are primed for easy and portable entertainment, web browsing, access to email, viewing videos, games, books and more. The tablets will also have access to networked content via Sony’s Qriocity Music and Video Services as well as PlayStation Suite and the Sony Reader Store.
Sony S1 tablet has a 9.4-inch display for enjoying the web and rich content on a large screen. Its off-center of gravity design realizes stability and ease of grip as well as a sense of stability and lightness, offering comfortable use for hours.
The dual screen S2 comes with two 5.5-inch displays which can be used together as one large screen to browse websites and more. They can also be used for different functions as users can watch a video on one screen and input commands on the other, or check email on one screen and use the other as a soft keyboard.
“Sony Tablets deliver an entertainment experience where users can enjoy cloud-based services on-the-go at any time. We’re aiming to create a new lifestyle by integrating consumer hardware, including ‘Sony Tablets’ with content and network,” said Kunimasa Suzuki.
Suzuki raised eyebrows in January when he told reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January that Sony was aiming for the No.2 spot in the tablet market behind Apple within a year, even though it had yet to put a product on the market.
The company has emphasised the need to differentiate its tablet from rivals, even if that takes time. The tablets will come to retail in fall 2011. We’re still waiting for details on pricing, but we’re expecting it’ll be competitive with what’s already on the market.
“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. I’m excited about ‘Sony Tablets’ as it will further spur the development of applications and network offerings which users are looking for,” said Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President, Mobile, Google Inc.
Sales of tablet devices are expected to quadruple to about 294 million units between 2011 and 2015, with almost half that made up by Android-based, according to research firm Gartner.
In a bid to tap that burgeoning demand, competitors including Samsung Electronics – whose Galaxy Tab has emerged as Apple’s strongest competitor in the tablet market – and Motorola, LG Electronics and HTC are flooding the market with tablets running Google’s Android software. [Sony via Boing Boing and Sony Blog]