Sony join the tablet fight

The idea of a tablet was once no more than a sci-fi dream however now it’s one of the hottest pieces of electronics with Apple leading the pack through their iPad range. Since the explosion in popularity of the original iPad, every Tom, Dick and Acer are building their very own tablets and this Autumn will see Sony join the party. Announced yesterday (via Telegraph) in a press conference, the company revealed the S1 and S2, two touch-only devices with two apparently different purposes.

The S1 is your standard iPad contender boasting a nine inch screen and Android’s Honeycomb operating system. Its design is meant to invoke the feeling of holding a magazine, tapering at one end but thick at the other. The S2 on the other hand is more of a portable web browsing device with a clamshell style which opens up to reveal not one but two 5.5 inch 1024×480 screens. Both are naturally WiFi, 3G and 4G enabled and both will come with the PlayStation Certified label meaning they’ll be able to play PS1 games and whatever else Sony approves for its mobile devices.

I get the S1, it’s Sony’s tablet which can stand up to the competition but the S2 puzzles me and I wonder if Sony are getting a little confused too. We already have a mini tablet to to speak, capable of playing PlayStation Certified games. The Xperia Play or PlayStation Phone as it’s been dubbed. A big factor of that is the physical buttons which Sony have marketed as being ‘needed’ for mobile gaming. So why now are we to received a dual-screened device whose games will be controlled just like any other touchscreen platform? To me, the S2 and Xperia Play will be fighting against each other in some ways with one boasting real buttons for real controls and the other following along with the Smartphone crowd. Maybe that’s it, maybe the Xperia Play will be the chosen platform for gamers who scoff at iPhone and Android gaming and the S2 is there for those who prefer something more casual. It does look a bit like a mock-up for a DS 2 before the 3DS was announced.

With these two systems, Sony doesn’t want to beat Apple but instead sit firmly in second place by 2012. Or at least that was their outlook last year so their aspirations may have changed since then. It’s a very tough market to jump into and Sony are renowned for making bits of hardware so the brand could be what drives sale of the S1 and S2 when they’re released in Autumn. Whether I fully understand the purpose of both tablets is irrelevant because tablets are big business now and there almost feels as if companies don’t necessarily need a reason to release one other than to be one of the choices for consumers. And like the Xperia Play, I’m really quite intrigued to see where Sony takes these tablet.

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