By Harry McCracken | Monday, April 25, 2011 at 11:33 pm
When you jump into the teeming Android tablet business, you choose to use an operating system that’s also used by a bunch of manufacturers. And there’s only so much you can do to differentiate the hardware–almost every tablet is basically a skinny slab with a great big touchscreen.
Sony, however, just announced two Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablets with hardware that’s not the same ol’ same ol’. They’re not shipping until this fall, and are known at the moment only by the codenames S1 and S2.
The S1 has a 9.4″ screen–a skosh smaller than the iPad 2–and what Sony calls an “off-center of gravity” design, as seen above on the left. It’s an unusual wedge shape that Sony says makes it feel stable, light, and comfortable to hold.
The S2, meanwhile, is really unusual: it’s both a tablet and a clamshell. Like a Nintendo 3DS, Toshiba’s Libretto W100, and Acer’s Iconia, it’s got two screens–5.5″ ones in this case, which can act either as individual displays or like one big virtual one. And you can fold the whole thing up for easy portability.
Sony hasn’t released much of anything in the way of specs yet (nor pricing), but it’s blogged briefly about the tablets and produced this video:
Like nearly everyone else in the tablet business who isn’t Apple, Sony is announcing these tablets long before it plans to ship them. But it’s almost a relief to hear that they won’t show up until the fall. After reviewing the unfinished-feeling Motorola Xoom and BlackBerry PlayBook, I vote for tablet makers taking their own sweet time rather than rushing products to market.