April 26, 2011 at 11:21 AM ET
Sony has announced that it will try to carve out a spot in the iPad-dominated tablet competition by launching not one, but two PlayStation-themed tablets of its own this fall.
The Sony Tablets — currently dubbed the S1 and S2 — will be powered by Google's Android 3.0 operating system and were shown at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The two tablets approach the competition from completely different directions, with the S2 featuring a unique two-screen clamshell design.
S2's two displays measure 5.5-inches and can be folded for portability. The case on each half of the tablet is curved, giving the device a rounded pocketbook look when it's closed.
Sony said in a press release that the two displays can be combined for use as one larger screen or they can each be used separately for different functions such checking email on one screen while using the other as a soft keyboard.
Truth be told, the thing is a bit reminiscent of the best-selling Nintendo DS gaming device.
Meanwhile, the S1 comes in the more-familiar iPad-like form factor with one 9.4-inch display. It has an off-center-of-gravity design for "stability and ease of grip as well as a sense of stability and lightness." With infrared built in, it can also be used as universal remote for Sony's Bravia TVs and related devices.
Sony, which comes to the tablet party a bit late, did not reveal the specific weight or measurements of its forthcoming devices or the price of the gadgets, but did say both tablets are Wi-Fi and WAN (3G/4G) compatible.
The company also said both tablets will come equipped with the new PlayStation Suite software which gives owners access to first-generation PlayStation games.
For a look at how games would be played on the clamshell S2 tablet using touchscreen PlayStation style game controls, check out this video from the Japanese Game Watch site. (Like I said, hello Nintendo DS.) And here's a look at the virtual PlayStation controls demonstrated on the S1 tablet.
The tablets are the latest hardware from the company as it tries to find its place in the rapidly changing smartphone and tablet market, as well as stake a gaming claim in these areas as well.
Smartphones and tablets have become major gaming devices. With that in mind, Sony recently launched the Xperia Play — a smartphone with the PlayStation Suite software as well as a built-in gaming pad.
Meanwhile, Sony plans to launch its Next Generation Portable gaming device this holiday season. That gadget will offer 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, a 5-inch OLED touch-screen, a touch pad on the back of the device as well as two analog sticks for in-depth game control.
No matter what, Sony is playing catch up on all fronts. While the tablet market grows more crowded each day, the iPad continues to dominate in a big way. Meanwhile, the iPhone and Apple's App Store are the big dogs when it comes it comes to smartphone gaming. And portable Nintendo gaming gadgets (the DS as well as the new 3DS) have far outsold Sony's PlayStation Portable device.
It will be interesting to see whether any of Sony's new devices can make up that lost ground.
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