Hands on with Sony's S1, S2 tablet PCs

The tablets are light and easy to hold

Sony will take its first step into the tablet market later this year when it launches two devices. Prototypes of the two tablets were previewed at a Tokyo news conference on Tuesday, but what are they like to use? On Tuesday evening I had a brief chance to try them out.

The two tablets are very different devices. The larger of the two, code-named S1, has a 9.4-inch screen that takes up most of the front. The second tablet, code-named S2, has a clamshell design with twin 5.5-inch screens and can be folded so it fits in a jacket pocket or bag. Some might argue this design doesn't technically make it a tablet, but it runs the same Android 3.0 OS and has much in common with the S1.

My first surprise came when I picked up the S1. It's pretty light -- Sony hasn't detailed the weight or other specifications -- and while it was difficult to guess how much it weighs, it was lighter than I would have expected for a device of this size.

The case is designed in a wedge shape. Sony said inspiration for this came from the way you might hold a magazine with a single hand. Typically, you'd fold half the magazine around on itself to make it easier to hold, resulting in one side being thicker than the other.

When using the tablet in portrait mode, you hold it by gripping the thicker of the two sides with your hand. It felt quite natural.

In landscape mode, Sony has indentations along each side that provide a resting place to the thumbs. It's pretty easy to hold and the weight wasn't a problem -- at least for the five minutes I used it.

The screen was bright and crisp and the touch panel was quite responsive, but on a few occasions icons didn't launch when clicked or things had to be swiped twice. It needs a little bit more work, but Sony has several months to improve the prototype before it becomes a commercial product.

In the world of tablets, the S2 is a much more unique device.

Each half of the case has a curved back so when it's closed it has a side profile that looks like an oval. It reminded me a lot of the oval ends of the original PlayStation 3, but Sony said that was just a coincidence.

With its 5.5-inch displays, Sony is hoping that developers come up with innovative applications that make use of the dual screens. Some of the company's own applications do. The mail app, for example, shows the message text on the top screen and the mail list on the bottom screen.

It too was reasonably light, although I wasn't as surprised at the weight. That's probably because it's small and isn't expected to be heavy.

I also got a chance to try out a game. Both tablets are PlayStation Certified, which means they will run an upcoming series of Android games from Sony and other game studios. The familiar PlayStation control buttons appear on screen and are used through the touch panel.

With no tactile feedback, it felt a little strange. But then again, this isn't meant to offer a hardcore gaming experience, Sony has the PlayStation Portable and upcoming "NGP" next-generation portable platforms for that. The game, a version of Sony's Crash Bandicoot, worked well enough and provided some brief entertainment -- until Crash fell down a hole and it was game over.

In the tablet market, Sony's game is only just beginning. The two tablets should debut in markets around the world from later this year.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags sonyhardware systemstablet PCslaptops

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?