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8/31/2011
03:03 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Sony Android Tablets: Launch Dates, Pricing Released

Do these Android Honeycomb tablets have a chance against the iPad?

Finally, Sony has shared some more details regarding its upcoming Android tablets. Sony said that the Sony Tablet S will ship in Europe starting in late September, for $499 and $599 for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively. The Sony Tablet P will also ship in Europe, but not until November. It starts at a more formidable $700.

The Tablet S will ship with Android 3.1 Honeycomb. Sony says it is "upgradeable" to Honeycomb 3.2. The Tablet P will ship with Android 3.2. Both will include dual-core Tegra2 processors, 5-megapixel main cameras that shoot 720p HD video, and VGA (0.3-megapixel) cameras that face the user for video chats.

The S has a single 9.4-inch TruBlack LCD panel with 1280 x 800 pixels. Sony describes this tablet as having an off-center of gravity design that realizes stability and ease of grip, as well as a sense of stability and lightness, offering comfortable use for hours.

The S has a tapered shape that sort of resembles the MacBook Air. The device will make heavy use of Sony's Qriosity (pronounced "curiosity") media service. It will have a customized "Quick and Smooth" touch panel user interface--hopefully nothing like its Xperia UI.

Sony allowed some blogs to get early access to the device for some initial reviews. Joshua Topolsky, of ThisIsMyNext.com, gave the S lumps for its hard-to-use software. He wrote, " In Sony’s attempt to alter (or improve?) the experience of the OS, the company has simply made it more messy. I didn’t feel like I wanted to pick the device up and work with it--I felt like I wanted to avoid it. The company is capable of making some very nice and handsomely designed hardware, and I would say that they’ve accomplished that with the Tablet S. But as in past efforts, Sony seems to struggle on the software side, and that makes this device harder to recommend even against other Honeycomb tablets." He rated the S a six out of ten.

The Sony Tablet P is unique for a tablet. It has a sideways clamshell design with 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 customized user interface and can make use of one screen for game controllers.

The P will be PlayStation certified (as will the S) and come with support for DLNA media sharing.

AT&T plans to sell a version of the P to customers with a data plan. This new version of the P will be able to access AT&T's HSPA+ (no, not LTE) 4G network.

Pricing for the tablet's data plans have yet to be revealed, along with the for-sale date from AT&T. The Sony Tablet P 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.

Can Sony make a dent so far behind the rest of the tablet pack? That's doubtful, I'd wager. The company can certainly throw together decent products, as Topolsky noted, but its track record with mobile devices--just look at any of the cell phones it has announced in the last two years--isn't what you'd call successful.

The price point for the Tablet S isn't terrible, but it is going up against the iPad and a handful of Android tablets. At this point in the game, it is a bit of a late-comer. The Tablet P, although unique, will be an even later-comer. Sony has its work cut out for it.

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