Hands On with Sony S2 Tablet


Sony plans on releasing a dual screen tablet with an Android honeycomb later this year, codenamed S2


The officials from Sony have finally announced a few details of their upcoming tablet, codenamed the S2.  It will be an Android Honeycomb 3.0 tablet with a dual screen, a fact that we already knew as Sony had released the information earlier this year in Japan.

Sony did manage to surprise journalists with other details, or a lack thereof. There is still no official release date for the tablet with no pricing plans or specifications. AT&T will be the carrier for the S2 tablet with 3G, Wi-Fi and AT&T’s 4G HSPA+ speeds and will offer pre-pay and post-pay plans.

The S2 has a clamshell design that makes it handy, and its ability to fold lets a user store it in a small bag or purse. Executives from Sony claim that the tablet can also be slipped in a pocket, but with its 5.5inch dual screen one might have to make quite an effort tucking it in.

Demos of the S2 showed that its capabilities could not be underestimated. Sony has designed its own improvements to the Android Honeycomb 3.0 for the S2; it offers Quick View and Quick Touch. The former is supposed to load websites faster than a typical tablet, but this is an illusion to which the executives have admitted. Quick View shows a website’s imagery before the Java Script so it gives the look of a loaded page. Nevertheless, it loaded a webpage eight seconds faster than a typical tablet in a test, and that is commendable in itself.

The other enhancement, Quick Touch, offers faster scrolling and a better gesture response. However, the demo shows that the S2’s fluidity is very similar to the iPad, so Sony has not produced an innovation here. It still offers a better response than most of the tablets in the market, such as the HP TouchPad. So the S2 is ahead of most tablets for fluidity, if not the first.

A PlayStation capability is the primary selling point for the S2. The tablet can run all the PS One and PSP games from the PlayStation library. A dual screen come handy over here; the top screen becomes the screen and the bottom one becomes a nifty controller that is reminiscent of the original PS ones. Sony will be shipping the S2 with two preloaded games, Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Hero.

The S2 also makes good use of its dual screen in another other way. It comes with an eBook reader that displays two pages side by side, making the phone resemble to a real book.

Sony’s Qriocity will be a central part of the S2, which will provide the user with video and music on demand. The S2 will also include an ability to send videos or content to a TV through a DNLA – if the TV is DNLA-compatible, of course.

With all known features listed, it is worth mentioning that unlike other press releases this one contained hardly any specifications or pricing plans. One cannot say so far if the S2 is ahead of its competitors, but its hype certainly makes it look worth buying. The biggest drawback to the tablet can be the problem with adopting the dual screen. Developers may not fully utilize the two screens and the purpose of the S2 might fail altogether – there is hardly any app in the Android market so far that can utilize two screens, so it seems a gamble. Moreover, the rumored price in the UK is thought to be about 500 pounds, which is far more costly than other tablets around.

One can only wait for further announcements and a proper list of the features to decide whether the tablet is worth buying. Right now it seems quite ‘cool’ and innovative, but there are a lot of questions left unanswered.

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