Sony jumps into tablet fray with two models

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Sony Corp. on Tuesday unveiled its first tablet computers, which will hit store shelves this fall or later, entering a market segment currently dominated by foreign makers.

The two new models, which are code-named S1 and S2 and powered by Google’s Android 3.0 operating system, enable users to easily experience Sony’s software content, including games, music and videos, Kunimasa Suzuki, deputy president of Sony’s Consumer Products and Services Group, told a press event in Tokyo.

The S1 is a 9.4-inch touch-screen model with built-in front and rear cameras. A relatively large screen for the tablet is designed for home use, and its off-center design gives stability and comfort for hours-long use, Suzuki said.

The S1 can also synchronize with home entertainment devices such as TVs and audio equipment.

For instance, it can work as a remote for TVs and also display its contents on a TV screen.

The S2 is a clamshell form tablet and has 5.5-inch dual touch displays with built-in front and rear cameras.

The S2, which can be folded, is for mobile use, Suzuki said.

Both are designed to handle online content, including Sony’s PlayStation Suite, which allows users to play some older PlayStation games on Android and Qriocity, Sony’s music and video platform services, as well as access its e-book store.

The company did not release the prices and more detailed specs of the devices.

Suzuki noted the remarkable growth of smart-phone and tablet devices, whose users can now easily access various online services.

Consequently, “we seriously thought hard about the potential of the tablet as an online networking device with Sony’s characteristics,” such as connecting to its various online content, Suzuki said.

This year is likely to be the year of the tablet, with many other makers set to release products. The market has been mostly dominated by Apple’s iPad, followed by South Korea-based Samsung.

Meanwhile, Japanese makers have been slow to jump on the bandwagon.