In a San Francisco press event held last week, Sony showed off some of the capabilities and features of its upcoming Sony Tablet S1 and Sony Tablet S2. PCWorld had the rare opportunity to play with both tablets. Mere mortals like you and me, though, got our sneak previews with “Two will,” a five-episode series of creative teaser videos showcasing the S1 and S2′s powers. The third episode has just been released and shows more details about the S2 than in the previous two episodes.
PCWorld reports that Sony has inked an exclusive partnership with AT&T for the Sony Tablet S2′s data service. The two Honeycomb tablets are rumored to hit European countries some time in September. The Sony Tablet S2, along with the Sony Ericsson Xperia play, are slated for release in the United States this fall.
Critics say that Sony’s release of its two tablets in the fall may mean throwing the two tablets into a marketplace already crowded with competing Android tablets. However, Sony may have a chance of getting noticed because of the unique, non-cookie-cutter designs of the two tablets.
The Sony Tablet S2 is designed with a foldable split-screen having two 5.5-inch screens. Some describe it as a clamshell design. Others describe it as a foldable wallet design. When folded, its thickness is comparable to the combined thickness of two average-depth mobile phones stacked on top of each other.
When unfolded, the Sony Tablet S2 can be used in either portrait or landscape orientation. The portrait (vertical) orientation, for instance, allows the display to appear like the opposing pages of an open book, a fact that will come in really handy for using the Sony Tablet S2 as an e-reading device. Reports say that Sony will preload the S2 with its own Reader Store app.
In landscape orientation, the Sony Tablet S2 can easily remind you of the Nintendo DS, a split-screen game console that’s also roughly about the same size as the S2. Although not exclusively a gaming device, the Sony Tablet S2 has gaming in mind, too, since it is PlayStation Certified, which means it can and ought to run games off the upcoming PlayStation Suite set for release before yearend. The split-screen feature in landscape mode also allows for Android apps to run across the two screens. And, with a 1-GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor onboard, plus Android 3.x Honeycomb, you can expect the Sony Tablet S2 to provide a powerful environment for gaming.
Meanwhile, the Sony Tablet S1′s shape is far from being flat and regular. Most people refer to the S1′s design as that of a folded magazine, with one edge thicker than and narrowing towards the opposite edge. That looks like a truly unique design with practical implications, foremost of which is the natural incline that the S1 will have when placed on a flat surface. The incline, of course, is handy for typing–and it seems that Sony had that in mind when it finalized the design because Sony went an extra mile by adding feet right underneath the thicker edge.
The thicker edge (i.e., the “fold”) is also smoothly curved and rounded. According to Sony, that area is also where most of the tablet’s weight and center of gravity are concentrated. When held in portrait orientation, you’ll need to get used to holding the edges having different thicknesses. The rounded edge, however, makes it fit comfortably into the hand.
A USB port and a headphone jack sit beside each other on the left side of the S1, while the volume rocker and power button are on the right side. One of two stereo speakers lies on the narrower portion of each side. The speakers are also inset–a thoughtful design consideration to help users from accidentally blocking sounds from the speakers. The power adapter port and dock connector port are located at the thinner bottom edge of the S1.
Sony also added a Favorites button right beside the Apps menu on the upper right corner of the interface. The Favorites button allows users to set a customized and personalized home screen containing only the users’ favorite apps, websites, or media. That’s a rather convenient shorthand for accessing frequently used apps or frequently viewed sites or media content.
The Sony Tablet S1 and Sony Tablet S2 may be arriving this fall in a relatively crowded market for tablets. Whether the Sony tablets’s unique designs will stand out from the crowd remains to be seen. What features of either tablet would make you want to forgo all other tablets?
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