Sony has announced its intention to crash into the tablet PC market with two devices set for release later this year. Codenamed S1 and S2, both models will support WiFi and WAN (3G/4G) connections and run on the tablet-oriented Android 3.0 OS.
There's little in the way of specifications available at this stage, but Sony is clearly looking to stand-out from the crowd in terms of form-factor. The S1 features a 9.4-inch display and looks pretty much like a "traditional" tablet aside from its wedge-shaped "off-center of gravity" design aimed at improving stability, grip and comfort.
S2 gets a little more radical with its portable, horizontally hinged design and dual 5.5-inch displays which can be used separately (using the bottom screen as a soft keyboard for example) or combined as a single large screen for viewing video or web content.
The tablets will be of course be linked with the company's gaming, ebook and Qriocity music and video service. The S1 will also pack infrared technology so it can be used as a universal remote control for Sony AV devices and DLNA functionality will allow content on the tablet to be shown on big screen TVs or played through wireless speakers.
Sony's new tablets will become available in autumn 2011 and – although it's out of the starting gates a year after Apple's iPad and now faces stiff competition from big players like Samsung, Motorola, HP and RIM as well – Sony wants to catch up fast, having previously stated its intention to hit the number two position in the market by 2012.
That's a big challenge ... and it's a big market. In 2012, IDC forecasts worldwide tablet shipments of 70.8 million units. In Q3 2010 Apple shipped 4.2 million units – an almost 90% share worldwide. What in-roads the newcomers can make in this fast changing landscape remains to be seen.