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New Sony tablets could be iPad's first real test

Asher Moses, SMH | Sept. 1, 2011
Sony is serving up a real competitor to the iPad 2, presenting Apple's new CEO Tim Cook with his first big test after Steve Jobs stepped down.

The Tablet P is small enough to fit in a purse and opens like a book to reveal two 5.5-inch screens. When used for e-book reading, it can be held vertically and show one page on each screen. When composing email, the upper screen can show the message while the lower one shows a keyboard.

Reading a book on the foldable Sony Tablet P.

Reading a book on the foldable Sony Tablet P. Photo: AFP

The Tablet P has 4GB of storage space, built-in Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity and an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. The Android 3.2 device measures 79 x 180 x 26mm and weighs 327 grams.

Both models come with a 5-megapixel front camera, 0.3-megapixel rear camera, USB 2.0 port and SD card slot. And as one would expect they both have accelerometers, gyro sensors, digital compass and an ambient light sensor.

The tablets tie into other Sony properties. For instance, they will be able to run games created for the original PlayStation and the PlayStation Portable. They'll also have apps that connect to Sony's Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited content stores, formerly known as Qriocity.

The price tag, similar to the iPad, may be too high to make a dent in the iPad 2's market share. HP's offering, the TouchPad, was only able to generate significant consumer demand after its price was cut to $99.

Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps said Sony was no copycat and its new tablets showed "true innovation in hardware design". But she said the price "raises a red flag".

"We've been down this road before: Motorola and HP both priced their devices on par with the iPad, and both were unable to sell their devices in volume until they lowered the price significantly," she said.

Telsyte analyst Foad Fadaghi said Sony was entering a crowded market and would "have their work cut out for them" but acknowledged the company had "the advantage of different form factors, strong consumer brand and ability to bundle with other Sony products."

“Telsyte believes that Android manufacturers need to significantly undercut iPad pricing to attract a strong following," he said.

“We estimate that Sony will have around 1 per cent market share by the end of this year. This is mainly due to being late to market and potentially using an unproven premium pricing strategy.”

Telsyte estimates that as at June 30 700,000 tablets had been purchased by Australians. By year's end it expects this to reach 1.5 million tablets.


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