The Sony S2 will become available later this year and make use of AT&T's HSPA+ wireless network, not its forthcoming Long Term Evolution network.
AT&T on Wednesday said it plans to sell a version of the S2 (which, by the way, is a codename) "later this year." This new version of the S2 will be able to access AT&T's 4G network, in addition to Wi-Fi. People interested in the S2 will be able to purchase it with monthly data plans, though pricing for those plans wasn't revealed.
As with the 4G HP TouchPad announced Tuesday, 4G in this case doesn't mean Long Term Evolution, it means HSPA+. AT&T plans to launch five LTE markets this summer, with perhaps another 10 markets following by the end of the year. Since AT&T does not advertise the speeds it offers through its HSPA+ network, we can only assume that it will offer speedy networks in the areas AT&T says include "enhanced backhaul." Best guess? HSPA+ at 21-Mbps downloads (real-world speeds will be slower).
The 4G Sony S2 will also have unfettered access to AT&T's 20,000 Wi-Fi access points in case its HSPA+ network isn't available. That means free Wi-Fi in tons of airports, hotels, convention halls, and restaurants.
Without LTE, what's to make the S2 compelling? Well, its form factor, for one.
The S2 is unique for a tablet. It is a sideways clamshell that has two 5.4-inch displays (1024 x 480 pixels) that, when opened, make a larger display--albeit with a black bar running down the middle. It will have a Tegra 2 SoC, cameras, a customized user interface, and can make use of one screen for game controllers.
The S2 will be PlayStation certified and come with support for DLNA media sharing. Sony hasn't shared too many other details about the S2, such as processor speeds, camera quality, memory, storage, and many other specs.
Sony said that the S2 (and its S1 brother) will launch in the fall, by which time there may be an iPad 3/HD, a new Samsung Galaxy Tab, and other follow-up Android devices.
Can Sony make a dent in the tablet market entering so far behind the rest of the pack? Doubtful, I'd wager. The company can certainly throw together decent products, but its track record with mobile devices--look at any of the cell phones it has announced in the last two years--isn't what you'd call successful. That hasn't dampened AT&T's outlook, however.
"With its unprecedented, completely portable form factor, the 'Sony Tablet' S2 offers tablet enthusiasts a convenient and unique entertainment experience," said David Haight, vice president of business development, in a statement. "Users will be treated to exceptional graphics and the touch-screen capabilities will enable a fast and efficient website experience."
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