Japanese electronics and entertainment giant Sony Corp. on Tuesday unveiled its first tablet computers, codenamed S1 and S2, in a direct but belated challenge to Apple’s iPad. The “Sony Tablet” S1 has a single screen and is for home use while the portable S2 has two screens, Sony told a news conference. The tablet devices will have access to online content to buy and download videos, music and other entertainment and be compatible with existing PlayStation games, Sony official Kunimasa Suzuki said.
Digital books can also be downloaded and read on the multimedia computers which are Wi-Fi and 3G/4G compatible for email and Internet access. The S1 has a 9.4 inch (24 centimetre) screen, and front and rear cameras while the folding clamshell S2 has dual 5.5 inch colour touchscreens and fits into a pocket. “This design is particularly relevant for reading digital books whose content is displayed on screen as two pages side-by side,” Suzuki said. Both screens can be used together as a single large screen or for playing games on one and displaying control buttons on the other. The S1 can also work as a universal remote to control audio-visual equipment or send content to television screens or music to wireless speakers, Sony said. The two devices use the Google Android 3.0 operating system, known as Honeycomb, which is optimised for devices with larger screen sizes.
“I’m excited about ‘Sony Tablet’ as it will further spur the development of applications and network offerings which users are looking for,” said Andy Rubin, senior vice president of Google’s mobile division. The announcement comes as Sony looks to focus more on pushing its content such as games and music through hardware platforms including game consoles, smartphones and tablet computers. Sony said earlier this year it planned to be the number-two tablet maker by 2012 but until Tuesday had given little indication of how it intended to compete in a market already dominated by Apple’s iPad. The iPad, which was released in April of last year, accounted for 83.9 per cent of the total 17.6 million tablets sold in 2010, according to technology research company Gartner.