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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

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

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?