Sony unveils its twin-screen tabletA split from the norm: Sony unveils its twin-screen tablet that opens like a book - but will it take a bite out of Apple?
* Sony will also produce a conventional tablet as it aims to break the market
* S1 and S2 will use Google's Android 3.0 operating system
* Tablets will both be wi-fi and 3G/4G compatible
* Prices and release dates not revealed
Being able to carry your entire book collection has become a feature of tablet computers. But Sony has gone one further by making a device that folds open like one too.
Sony announced it is entering the tablet market dominated by Apple's iPad with not one, but two devices.
The tablets - called S1 and S2 - will use an operating system based on Google's Android 3.0.
And in what Sony hopes will provide a key selling point, the latter has two 5.5-inch displays that can be folded like a book. The S1 has a 9.4inch display.
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They will both allow the use of Sony PlayStation games and are designed for sending emails, social networking, and enjoying online content such as movies, music and electronic books.
'We offer what is uniquely Sony,' Mr Suzuki said after demonstrating how the S1 was designed with a tapered width for carrying around 'like a magazine'.
Sony did not give any indication of how much the tablets will cost or when they will be released.
The devices will connect to Sony's cloud-computing based library of content such as movies and music, as well as to PlayStation games adapted for running on Android and digital books from Sony's Reader store.
Sales of tablet devices are expected to quadruple to about 294million units between 2011 and 2015, with almost half that Android-based, research firm Gartner has forecast.
The company has emphasised the need to differentiate its tablet from rivals, even if that takes time.
'Although it's a late comer in the market, it has potential as what you need is just one big uniqueness that can sell to customers be it design or whatever,' said Lee Sun-tae, an analyst at Meritz Securities in Seoul.
'By the same token it can be just one of another Android phones flooding the market amid intensifying competition.'
The announcement of Sony's key net-linking offerings comes as it tries to fix the outage of its PlayStation Network, which offers games and music online.
It is unclear when that can start running again. Sony has blamed the problem on an 'external intrusion' and has acknowledged it would have to rebuild its system to add security measures and strengthen its infrastructure.
Sony, which makes the Vaio personal computer and PS3 gaming console, has lost some of its past glory - once symbolised in its Walkman portable music player that pioneered personal music on-the-go in the 1980s, catapulting the Japanese company into a household name around the world.
It has been struggling against flashier and more efficient rivals including Apple's iPhone, iPod and iPad machines, as well as South Korea's Samsung, from which Sony purchases liquid-crystal displays, a key component in flat-panel TVs.
Sony has already promised a successor to its PlayStation Portable machine for late this year, code-named NGP for 'next generation portable', promising the quality of a home console in an on-the-go machine boasting a screen double the size of smart phones.
Shares in Sony, which unveils its quarterly results on May 26, fell 2.1 per cent this morning.