It seems Sony is finally coming out from behind the curve with the announcement of the PSP2 and the Xperia Play smartphone. Of course, it only seems that way because Sony never intends to be a first mover in the industry which could work to their advantage if they spent more of their time addressing some fundamental issues instead of just cramming more and more power into their devices.
In the effort of fairness, Sony is getting rid of the XCrossMediaBar user interface that has been around forever and the thumb sticks on the PSP2 have been reported to be much more user friendly. Their adoption of Android has opened up some interesting possibilities for expansion of the PSP2 and Xperia Play devices to include things like social games thanks to the PlayStation Suite. It has also opened up the possibility of a Sony tablet running Android 3.0, which has been recently confirmed by inside sources with engadget.
To find out what Sony has in store for the new tablet, hit the break.
The internal codename for this mysterious new tablet is the "S1" which continues Sony's focus on gaming by earning a "PlayStation Suite" certification as well as a full fledged PlayStation certification. This means that the hardware neutral framework Sony is developing will be available on the S1 giving you access to an official PlayStation store filled with games as well as an Android game store later this year. As of right now it also appears that Qriocity, their video on demand, e-book, and music service, will be available to European users and the S1 will be equipped with a "Q" physical button for easy access.
As far as hardware is concerned, the S1 is a big boy with a 9.4 inch screen and has some interesting design features that Sony hopes will help it compete with the iPad. While the S1 and iPad will be of a similar size and weight, Sony has shifted the weight of the device to rest over the users arm and wrist when being held in one arm. This is also supposed to make the device feel lighter than it is. Something else interesting is the stand/arm rest on the back of the device that resembles a paper book that is folded backward over itself which is intended to put the tablet at a more convenient angle for typing on a desk or table. Wait, there's more; we can also expect an IR port for controlling electronics that still use the technology, 1280 x 800 screen resolution, Tegra 2 processor, front and rear facing cameras, as well as a USB port.
I'm sad to say the price point is less impressive than the hardware. The original price matched the iPad but has been increased to $599, for the WiFi-only version. Ironically, I'm thinking that the success of their gaming tablet at that price point hinges on how well rounded and Sony-centric the OS functionality is, the same can be said for the Xperia Play. Right now the release date is set for September 2011 but at this point don't give that much weight.