It’s not about who makes them first, but who makes them better.” That’s how Sony’s Sir Howard Stringer announced his upcoming tablets. Zing.
Meet the S and P, everyone. Sony just took the wraps off its first generation Android tablets a few moments ago at its 2011 IFA press event. But, as with most non-Apple product launches these days, there isn’t much to report since Sony used teasers and planted leaks over the last few months to generate buzz, which in turn, makes today’s announcement a tad anticlimactic.
Sony is hitting the tablet market with two models: the curvy S and the clamshell P. Tablets don’t sell on specs alone. The TouchPad and all the Honeycomb tabletss have proven that. Sony built their tablets around their robust but somewhat obscure Qriocity media distribution service, which seems to suggest Sony diehards are the target demographic.
The S offers a 9.4-inch IPS display with Sony TruBlack and Bravia technologies, and is available in the standard assortment of WiFi flavors in 16GB and 32GB sizes with AT&T getting a 4G model as well. Sony didn’t mention what hardware platform is at the S’s core, and it’s hard to say with dual-core chips coming from several different manufacturers. (update: Terga 2) It does have a full-size SD memory card reader, Bluetooth, and a long-life battery.
Sony is all about eating its own dog food. This emphasis on cross-device connectivity has led to the inclusion of an IR port on the backside, which can be used to control Sony Bravia TVs. Then, through Bluetooth, the tablet can control and and interact with the PS3 to the extent that both tablets are Playstation Certified.
The P is slightly different, but not exactly unique. Clamshell portables have been around for years, with the Kyocera Echo being the first to take a chance on the dual-screen Android design. Maybe not the most original design, sure, but the P’s two five-inch 1024 x 480 displays work in concert to provide a compelling Android experience. The two screens can work independently or together: one can act as a keyboard, while the other does email. Both screens can be used simultaneously for certain applications though, such as the eBook reader.
The Sony Tablet S and P are going to hit Europe “at the end of September” for €479 and in November for €599, respectively. No word on pricing or availability in other regions yet, but we hear (not through official means) that the 16GB and 32GB S models will ship in the States “within weeks” for $499 and $599. Update: Yep, that shipping window and price point is correct.
Like Stringer stated at the beginning of his IFA press conference, being first isn’t necessarily a path to success. Sony’s tablets are at least different from the competition. The radical designs might not catch on, but they feel like the Sony of old. The Sony that made the Walkman. The Sony that made the Trinitron. And yes, the Sony that made the Betamax, which is a Sony that is not afraid to hit the market like a arrogant male teenager, full of testosterone and bravado. Awesome.