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Sony Adds Details To Tablet PC Plans

7/17/2011 08:01:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK – Sony served up additional details about
its first two tablet PCs.

This included the announcement that AT&T will be
the exclusive U.S. cellular-data provider for the foldable
S2 tablet.

The S2, which features dual 5.5-inch screens, will
have Wi-Fi but will also operate on AT&T’s 3G and
HSPA+ 4G networks, Sony announced.

The S2 will not be available in a Wi-Fi-only version,
and the planned S1 tablet with 9.4-inch display will be
available only in a Wi-Fi version, Sony executives said
during a press event that included a demonstration of
the tablets.

AT&T business development VP said the S2 would
“leverage Sony and AT&T distribution.” He didn’t announce
price plans, but he did say AT&T will offer prepaid
and postpaid plans for the Android device.

Both models, based on the tablet-optimized Android
Honeycomb OS, will be available in the fall at undisclosed
prices. They were announced on April 26 during
a press event in Japan.

During the New York event, Sony executives also
announced a one-year extension of Sony’s sponsorship
of ESPN’s 3D sports network. Sony provides the
broadcaster with 3D broadcast equipment under the
sponsorship, which includes Sony advertising on the
network;

Sony also announced a collaboration with Adobe to
preinstall Adobe Flash on the tablets and stage a contest
to encourage the use of Adobe AIR technology to
create apps optimized for the two devices’ native capabilities,
including the devices’ cameras. App developers
will compete for $200,000 in cash prizes, and winning
apps will be promoted on the Sony devices.

During a Q&A session, Sony Electronics president/
COO Phil Molyneux reiterated that Sony “remains committed
to active-shutter” 3D technology because Full-
HD 3D requires the technology, and “consumers see
the difference.”

In discussing their tablet plans, Sony executives announced
a handful of other features but said they were
saving key details for the fall launch. They declined to
reveal such details as processor speed, video-capture
resolution, or whether HDMI mirroring would be available, but they said the S1’s infrared output would enable remote
control of home entertainment products from multiple
brands. In addition, each tablet will be available with different
levels of embedded memory, and both will come with
expandable memory.

For his part, Kunimasa Suzuki, president of Sony’s
Vaio and mobile business group, said the tablets would
compete successfully in the market because of four
differentiating factors, including form factor. The S2,
for example, folds to fit in a sports-jacket pocket or
purse, and each 5.5-inch touchscreen can be used as
a combined single screen, or each screen can be used
simultaneously for separate functions, such as playing
video on one screen and showing control buttons on
the other.

When the S2 is held vertically like a book, each screen
can display separate pages from a book downloaded from
Sony’ e-book store.

The chassis of the S1, unlike other tablets, features a
tapered depth so it can be held comfortably in one hand,
said Molyneux. The tapered design also makes it more
comfortable to use the tablet’s virtual keyboard when the
tablet is placed on a table because the display angles up
toward the user, he said.

The tablets’ other three differentiating factors are “swift
and smooth” technologies, wireless access to Sony entertainment
sources, and cross-device connectivity, the
executives said.

Swift and smooth technologies enable faster loading
of web pages and more responsive touchscreen scrolling
and multi-touch operation, the executives said.

The Sony entertainment sources accessed wirelessly
through preinstalled apps include Sony’s Qriocity music
and video-streaming sites, Crackle, and Sony’s Reader
Store. As a PlayStation-certified device, the tablets will
be the first to download first-generation PlayStation
game titles.

Cross-device connectivity features include DLNA sever
capability to stream video, photos and music to other
DLNA devices, plus an IR output that turns the S1 tablet
into a universal remote.

All four differentiation themes will be promoted at retail,
said Michael Lucas, networked technology and services
senior VP. The tablets will “play an important role” in Sony’s
fiscal third-quarter advertising, he added.