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David Zax

A View from David Zax

Tablet Proliferation Continues

New offerings from Gigabyte and Sony enter the tablet market.

  • May 10, 2011

A pair of new tablets have been announced, and another one nears a U.S. launch date, expanding the field of competition against the iPad.

Engadget notes that Gigabyte’s S1080 tablet is likely to come to a store near you soon. The FCC recently came across one Stateside and cracked it open for a look under the hood. The Windows 7 slate appeared in Taiwan not long ago, so its specs are no secret. It has a dual core Atom N550 processor, a 10.1-inch touchscreen with 1024x600 resolution. It has a curiously old-school twist to it: even though it has a touchscreen, there are also tactile mouse buttons and an optical mouse that can be operated by your thumbs. There’s a good-sized hard drive–320 GB–an SD card reader, Ethernet port, and other features outlined in a recent press release. The announcement had it priced at about $699, which strikes many observers as rather steep. Engadget snarkily calls it “the slate you never asked for.”

Maybe you’ll be more likely to ask for Sony’s forthcoming offerings. The other day it announced a pair of tablets, the S1 and the S2 ($599 and $699 respectively, according to one source). We don’t know a ton about these tablets yet, though CrunchGear rounds up some nice photos here. They’ll run on Honeycomb, and will employ Sony’s Qriocity media-streaming suite, helping feed your appetite for online music, games, books, and video. The S1 has a 9.4-inch screen and employs Tegra 2 (“the world’s first mobile superchip,” if you ask its maker) inside, which ought to help out with HD video playback. Other basics are in tow: IR port for AV control and DLNA support, for example.

We’re most intrigued, though, by the S2. Instead of having one big screen, it has two little ones (5.5 inches each). The whole thing appears to clasp together like a little snap-purse. How could the screens be used? Either in conjunction, as one large screen that happens to spill across two panels, or separately–video on one screen and a remote control on the other, or an email inbox up top and a virtual keyboard on the bottom. That, to us, seems like an actual tablet innovation, and we look forward to seeing these Sony devices hit the market sometime this fall.

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