Just when you thought everyone had given up trying to beat Apple at the tablet game, Sony finally makes its own rivals official. The pair have been on the cards for sometime, but few would have been expecting quite such unusual designs; making them, at the very least, stand out from the crowd.
So, what do we have? Let’s start with the more traditional of the two offerings, the Tablet S. It runs Android Honeycomb 3.2 and will come with either 16GB or 32GB of storage, plus there will be a 16GB 3G model too. Inside is a Tegra 2 processor running at 1GHz and is backed up by 1GB RAM, plus GPS, Bluetooth 2.1 Wi-Fi and a digital compass, along with a special infra-red remote control function so the tablet can replace your other remotes.
On the chassis you’ll find a 5 megapixel rear-mounted camera lens and a front-mounted VGA video-call lens, plus an SD card slot, a 3.5mm headphone socket and a micro-USB port. The LCD screen measures 9.4″ and has a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution.
The design is really interesting, as in landscape it looks like a notepad with the front cover flipped over and folded back, providing not only a neat visual touch, but pleasing ergonomics too.
But the Tablet S’s design quirk is nothing compared to the Tablet P, which borrows the foldaway style of the Nintendo DS! Two 5.5″ touchscreens, both with a 1024 x 480 pixel resolution, sit on each side of the clam shell case, allowing you to ‘read’ it like a book, have a split-screen keyboard layout or watch a film on one screen and have the controls on the other. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny it’s a brave move from Sony.
Like the Tablet S it runs Android Honeycomb and a 1GHz Tegra 2 processor with 1GB RAM, but only comes with 4GB of storage, which could limit it to being a glorified eBook reader. There is an SD card slot on the chassis to boost this figure though, plus it has all the same Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS connectivity seen on the Tablet S too. At just 372 grams the Tablet P is very light, and the presence of a 5 megapixel camera (and a forward-facing VGA cam) should make it a great companion on days out.
On paper both the Tablet S and Tablet P are strong rivals to the iPad 2, and their designs will no doubt be talking points for a while. However, Sony has made the mistake of pricing them like other Sony products – just a little bit too expensive. The Tablet S models match the iPad 2 at £399 and £479, but the dual-screen Tablet P is up for £499 – which is much too high for such a niche product. Knock £50 off each of the S’s prices and we’d be saying the opposite.
Both tablets are available for pre-order from Sony and are expected to go on sale in November.