updated 11:35 am EST, Mon February 21, 2011
Sony S2 and Windows 7 slider tablets coming
Sony's delayed entry into tablets should include more than just one model, sources said Monday. A second Android 3.0 model, the S2, would take advantage of Sony's dual-screen patent to create a unique ovoid, book-like model with two 5.5-inch displays. The Engadget tip suggested it would behave like a more advanced version of the Kyocera Echo and run apps that use the separate screens, such as Gmail showing a message list on one and the actual message on the other.
Other purposes could see Google Maps splitting up directions and the map as well as putting photos or videos on one screen while putting navigation controls on the second. The apps might work in both portrait and landscape modes. Most details are still a mystery, but it would use an NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and support 3G along with Wi-Fi.
The other device would be a Windows 7 VAIO tablet not unlike Samsung's Sliding PC 7 series. The 9.4-inch device would have a slide-out keyboard and might be a spiritual successor to the VAIO P. It may be hobbled, however, by the use of an Atom processor from the 2010-era Pine Trail platform rather than using the newer Oak Trail of Samsung and others. The device might have been spotted at the FCC late last year.
How well the tablets would enter the market is mixed. The Windows tablet was described as "nice" by one source, but the S2 has reportedly been regarded as risky. It may be a "dog," one said. Both were genuinely interested in the S1 and thought it could be meaningful if it taps into Sony's Qriocity media services as well as hoped.
The two, along with the S1, are likely to be ready by the holidays but could be costly, starting at $699 for the S2 and $799 for the Windows 7 slider. The latter could go up in price and might be narrowed down to October.
An entry with three tablets would represent part of an even larger than expected turnaround in philosophy for Sony. It had been taking a reluctant approach even after rapid iPad sales but has only been gradually showing how it would respond. The electronics giant hasn't confirmed any details but has reached the point where it now hopes to be second only to Apple by next year.