Sony to ship first Android-based tablet in September

Content will set Sony's Tablet S and P apart, the company hopes

Sony's Android Honeycomb-based single and dual-screen tablets will be called Tablet S and Tablet P, and cost from €479 (US$690) and €599, the company said on Wednesday at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

The two tablets were announced in April and have until now been known as the S1 and the S2.

Like so many other vendors of Android-based tablets, Sony hopes it can make a dent in Apple's sales of the iPad and grab a piece of the growing tablet market.

Sony's products take the tablet sector to a new level, according to Howard Stringer, the company's chairman, CEO and president.

"It is not who makes it first that counts, but who makes it better," said Stringer.

Sony is hoping content will help differentiate its tablet from the competition. The Tablet S and P will come with both music and movie download services. At IFA, the company announced it will gather all its content services under the Sony Entertainment Network brand.

The tablets will also be integrated with Sony's other products. For example, consumers can use them as a remote control, show images on DLNA-compatible TV sets. Music can be streamed to wireless speakers, as well.

Users will also get cloud-based storage, according to Sony.

The Tablet S and P are both PlayStation certified, which means the will be able to play first generation PlayStation games.

The Tablet S has a 9.4-inch screen and is shaped like a wedge. The upper portion of the tablet is thicker than the lower portion, which should make it easier to hold and also easier to view when sitting on a desk, according to Sony. At its thickest point the tablet measures 20.6 millimeters. It has a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor under the hood.

As has become a standard in the tablet space, it will come with Wi-Fi and 3G or Wi-Fi only. Storage is either 16GB or 32GB on the Wi-Fi version and 16GB on the Wi-Fi and 3G version. Users can add storage capacity using the SD card slot.

The Wi-Fi only version will start shipping in Europe at the end of September, and the 3G-equipped one will arrive in November.

At 625 grams the Tablet S with Wi-Fi and 3G is heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple's iPad2, which weigh 565 grams and 613 grams, respectively.

However, the Tablet P is the lightest of the bunch at 372 grams. The Tablet P is a folding device equipped with dual 5.5-inch screens, which basically makes it look like a Nintendo DS on steroids. When folded, the device measures about 79-by-180-by-26 millimeters, according to Sony.

The dual-screen tablet has the same Nvidia Tegra 2 mobile processor and will only be available with Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. Storage is 4GB, but that can be expanded using a microSD card.

The Tablet P will start shipping in November, according to Sony.

Both models feature front- and rear-facing cameras at 0.3-megapixels and 5-megapixels.

So far, 2011 hasn't been an easy year for Sony. The company reported a net loss for the three month period from April to June as it struggled with unfavorable exchange rates, cut-throat competition in the consumer electronics business and the hacking attack on its online gaming network, which is now "more secure than ever," according to Stinger. Add to that the fallout from the March earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.

"That was yesterday. The summer of our discontent is behind us," said Stringer, trying his best to sound upbeat.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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