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New Sony tablets could be iPad's first real test

Asher Moses, SMH | Sept. 1, 2011
Sony is serving up a real competitor to the iPad 2, presenting Apple's new CEO Tim Cook with his first big test after Steve Jobs stepped down.

Sony is serving up a real competitor to the iPad 2, presenting Apple's new CEO Tim Cook with his first big test after Steve Jobs stepped down.

The company today launched its first two tablet computers, with some features that aim to set them apart from the herd of iPad competitors. Analysts have praised Sony's design and functionality but are doubtful it will have much success without a significant price cut.

The wedge-like Tablet S will go on sale in Australia at the end of October but will be available for pre-order from the end of September. The 16GB and 32GB versions will sell for $579 and $689, respectively. This is a markup on the US prices of $499 and $599. The other new model, the dual-screen clamshell Tablet P, is not expected to launch this year.

Two screens makes the Sony Tablet P more versatile than the average tablet computer.

Two screens makes the Sony Tablet P more versatile than the average tablet computer. Photo: AFP

Sony is over a year late to the game, a fact the company readily acknowledges. "We want to prove that it's not who makes it first that counts, but who makes it better," said Sony's global CEO, Howard Stringer, at the IFA conference.

Both are Android tablets but unlike other iPad rivals, which look almost identical to Apple's design, Sony's offerings both offer more original aesthetics. This will likely protect it from being hit with patent infringement cases Apple has launched against other tablet rivals like Samsung.

The Sony tablets also include extra features like USB ports and allow users to play PlayStation games and link into Sony's music and video streaming service. This should provide a challenge to the iPad/iTunes ecosystem.

The Sony Tablet S has a wedge shape making it easier to hold and type.

The Sony Tablet S has a wedge shape making it easier to hold and type. Photo: AFP

The Tablet S, which is about the size of an iPad, can double as a universal remote control and can also "throw" sound and images wirelessly to DLNA-compatible TVs, hi-fi systems and other devices. The tablet is wedge-shaped, with one side thicker than the other. The shape mimics that of a magazine that's been folded over.

It has a 9.4-inch display, an Nvidia Tegra 2 chip and wi-fi/3G connectivity. The Tablet S, which runs Android 3.1 (3.2 update coming later this year), weighs 598 grams (about the same as an iPad 2) and comes in two versions - 16GB or 32GB.

 

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