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Sony Adds Details To Tablet Plans

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

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.

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.

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.

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;

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.