Sony Tablet PCs Built To Go The Distance
Sony tablet PCs were announced in April 2011 to rival the Apple iPad. The announcement came soon after the iPad 2 was launched in the US on 11 March. Sony has launched two models in the category. They are the first true competing devices to be released by the Japanese electronics leader. However, they are not expected to be available to consumers until late in 2011, probably around October 2011. The company joins several others with devices that offer a real alternative to the current iPad leader.
Tablets form the fastest growing market segment within the personal computer market. The segment was created by Apple which leads innovation for mobile personal computing and telephony. Overall tablet sales accelerated during 2010 to globally total more than 10 million units, up from only 90,000 in 2009 based on figures announced by the US Consumer Electronics Association. Analysts predict that 21 million of the devices will be purchased in 2011 with 26.5 million in 2012. Personal computer and notebook sales have slowed as more and more people switch over to tablets, particularly in the USA and Europe.
For instance, one producer announced its tablet in the early months of 2011. The unit is about the same size as the iPad with a 10 inch sized display screen (same as iPad) and a thickness of 10.9 mm thick (8.8 mm for iPad 2). Other producers have completed launches in limited markets around the world. Still other are about to launch soon.
Researchers at Strategy Analytics predict tablet sales will climb to US$50 billion by around 2015. The devices have found a strong appeal among consumers who see them as bridging the gap between notebook PCs and smart phones. Tablets lift Wi-Fi connectivity and mobile computing to a higher level.
Despite its hefty price, the Apple iPad has sold almost 15 million units have been snapped off the shelves by eager consumers during 2010. That generated US$10 billion for Apple. Sony is eager to get its share of the market. During January 2011, the company confirmed it aims to achieve second position in the segment during 2012.
The smaller S2 tablet folds up to halve its size. When folded, it will fit into many handbags and coat pockets. When opened, the S2 reveals dual 5.5 inch screens, one on the lid and one on the base. In designing these dual screens, Sony is providing applications developers to design new innovative apps. The company itself plans significant effort in this direction. Its email app, for instance, shows the text of the message on the top screen and the list of emails on the bottom screen.
The S1 model is a flat panel design and features a 9.4-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) with two cameras, one front one rear. The touch-screen itself is crisp, bright and easy on the eyes. Weight details have not been officially released, but analyst reports indicate it is surprisingly light. Rather than being completely flat, its case is slightly wedge shaped. When using the S1 in portrait mode, it is held by gripping the thicker of the two sides. The result is a pleasant, natural feel. In landscape mode, the unit has indentations along each side that provide a convenient grip for the thumbs.
The smaller S2 laptop-shaped model is smaller and folds like a clam. Folded, it fits easily into a coat pocket or handbag. Opened, the S2 reveals two 5.5 inch screens, one on the base the other on the lid. Purists claim this clamshell shape means it is not a tablet; but that seems rather pedantic and puerile.
The soon-to-be-available Sony tablet PCs will be a welcome addition to the range of devices available to consumer hungry for mobile Wi-Fi connectivity. They could seriously challenge the dominance of Apple in the niche. But we must wait until later this year to see the final product. We live in hope.
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