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Two Sony tablets announced, including foldable model

Sony Wednesday announced two tablets to take on Apple's iPad, including a foldable model with two 5.5-inch screens, and AT&T said it will carry HTC's Jetstream tablet dubbed by the carrier as "AT&T's first 4G LTE/HSPA+ tablet" that can run on the AT&T's fourth-generation network, still being built.

Sony's S tablet has been long expected; it announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that it would come out with one (not two), and said when it did, it aimed to come in behind Apple as the world's second largest maker of tablet devices by 2012.

All three tablets use Google's Android operating system, and ratchet up the tablet competition. Amazon's Android-based tablet, too, will soon be a contender.

Both Sony tablets "come complete with access to a full suite of Sony’s network entertainment services," the company says, including being "the first PlayStation Certified tablets that provide out-of-the-box gaming with included favorites 'Crash Bandicoot' and 'Pinball Heroes.' "

Here's some of the basics of the three tablets:

Sony Tablet S

It has a 9.4-inch touchscreen display, NVIDIA Tegra 2 mobile processor, weighs 1.33 pounds (the same weight as iPad 2). Has both a "Face focus VGA camera (front)" and 5-megapixel rear camera. Comes with microUSB interface, standard SD slot and 1 GB memory. It will ship with Android 3.1 ("Honeycomb," designed for tablets), but be upgradable to 3.2.

The sloped design is slightly different than that of the iPad's. "Unlike other tablet devices, Sony Tablet S device has an ergonomic, asymmetric design which allows it to be easily held or carried for long periods of time," the company says. "The unique form factor shifts the device’s weight closer to your palm, making it feel lighter and more comfortable while reading an e-book or watching a video."

Cost: Starts at $499 for 16 GB, WI-Fi only version; $599 for 32 GB, Wi-FI only model (the same prices as the iPad 2).

Availability: Mid to late September.

More info:

Sony Tablet P

The "P," on first blush, almost resembles Nintendo's two-screen DS and 3DS. It has two 5.5-inch displays and can "easily fit into a pocket, purse or backpack," Sony says.

It weighs "about .83 pounds," Sony says, and uses the NVIDIA Tegra 2 mobile processor and in addition to Wi-Fi, will be 4G "capable exclusively on AT&T's mobile broandband network."

The P will have many of the same features as the S; rear- and front-facing cameras, microUSB interface, standard SD slot. It is expected to ship with Android 3.2.

Why the two screens? For you multitaskers who want to be "playing video on one screen while using the other as a controller or reading email on one screen while using the other as a virtual keyboard," Sony says. "The displays can also be combined to form a single large screen for Internet browsing and more. By holding the device vertically, you can also read eBooks much in the same manner you would a physical book."

Cost: No information on pricing yet.

Availability: Later this year.

More info: .

HTC Jetstream

The tablet has a 10.1-inch HD display and is described by AT&T as providing the "first iteration of the HTC Sense" phone user interface in a tablet. It will use Android 3.1, or Honeycomb, OS.

The Jetstream has a Snapdragon 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, rear-facing 8 MP camera and front-facing 1.3 MP camera, and there is a dual LED flash. 

AT&T says "for the first time, ATT customers can receive discounted tablet pricing after committing to a two-year agreement for a new $35, 3-GB monthly data plan."

Cost: $699.99 with a new two-year contract. 

AT&T's pricing plan requires some study. The carrier says:

Postpaid tablet customers now have a new $35, 3 GB monthly data plan option with a two-year contract. Customers who do not choose a long-term commitment may still select one of two existing monthly billing options: Postpaid:  $14.99 for 250 MB or $25 for 2 GB. Customers on the 2 GB plan who exceed their monthly data allotment will be charged $10 per 1 GB of overage. Charges will appear on customers’ monthly wireless statements. Prepaid:  $14.99 for 250 MB or $25 for 2 GB. Customers on the 2 GB plan who exceed their monthly data allotment may choose to purchase an additional 2 GB for $25.  Charges will appear on customers’ credit card statements.

Availability:  Sept. 4.

More info:  AT&T.

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