Sony unveils S1 and S2 Android 3.0 tablets

So, the rumours were right. Well, almost. Sony has unveiled a 'book-like' tablet codenamed the Sony S1, but there's also a little brother, going by the current name of the Sony S2, with its own rather distinctive look.

Thankfully, we no longer have to rely on the hand-drawn image previously associated with the Sony Tablet (the generic name being used by the company), we now have wonderful colour shots to view, showing a tablet 'optimised for rich media entertainment' (S1) and a further device that's like a large smartphone, and according to Sony, is 'ideal for mobile communication and entertainment'. Both will be available from the autumn, timed perfectly for the Christmas run-up. That's probably no accident.

Both devices are currently packing the Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) opperating system and both are Wi-Fi and 3G compatible, with the S1 offering up a 9.4-inch display and an 'off-center of gravity design' for ease of use and holding. The S2 has two 5.5-inch displays that can be folded together when not in use, used independently (video on one screen, with controls on the other for example) or used together for one large screen. It's an interesting concept, that's for sure. The kind of leftfield thinking that might give Apple a run for its money in the tablet market.

According to Sony, both offer 'optimal usability and performance', right down to the keyboard, which is said to have been optimised for the large screen, making email and messaging a breeze. As expected, both are also optimised for Sony's Qriocity music and video services and the PlayStation Suite, so you can indulge in some PlayStation One nostalgia from the off. You can even use the tablets as universal remotes with Sony's Bravia devices too, if you really want to show off.

'Sony Tablet delivers 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 Tablet with content and network,' said Kunimasa Suzuki, Corporate Executive, SVP, and Deputy President of Consumer Products & Services Group.

'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 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 Mobile.

Will either give the iPad some much-needed competition? Possibly, especially if Sony gets the marketing right. Just a shame that we have to wait so long to find out. There are also a number of details still missing too. Phone functionality? Cameras? No mention of either as yet from Sony. No pricing as yet either (as you might expect), but previous rumours have hinted at pricing on a par with the iPad for the larger S1.

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