April 26, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Android Honeycomb tablets are becoming a dime-a-dozen, which naturally leads to attempts to set new tablets apart from the growing pack. Samsung added live panels to its device, and Asus included an optional keyboard dock that converts the Transformer into a surprisingly capable netbook. What’s left for Sony to do so its tablets don’t get lost in the crowd? Dual screens, apparently.
Sony announced two new tablets today, confirming the S1 and S2 codenames from previous rumors about what the company had in store. The S2 is a gaming and entertainment device that pairs two 5.5-inch screens tucked away into a folded clamshell. The two screens can move independently – the top screen plays games or movies while the bottom provides controls and navigation – or they can be pressed together to display one type of content (though a border is clearly visible). It’s a concept very similar to the Kyocera Echo, though Sony looks to have more entertainment options and services – like PlayStation-certified games – when the S2 is released in Fall 2011.
The S1, Sony’s tablet offering that is a bit more traditional, has a 9.4-inch screen, Android 3.0, and some services – like a Facebook and Twitter social feed panel – customized for the tablet experience. The S1 also stands out thanks to Qriocity music and video, Sony Reader store, DLNA for media sharing and remote control of Bravia TV sets, and unique hardware that curls for lightness and better viewing angles.
Previous rumors about the S1 and S2 suggested that Sony would customize Honeycomb, which immediately led to fears about more tablet fragmentation and delayed update times. Today’s announcement said nothing of customization, but the S2 tablet must be tweaked in order to support the unique controls of having two screens work together. We can only hope Sony is quick to support future Android updates and doesn’t intrude too much on the Honeycomb UI.