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Sony has been oddly quiet about its tablet plans, but now there’s word that it’s working on an intriguingly designed Android tablet that will be able to play games from its PlayStation Suite, Engadget reports.
The tablet, which is going by the codename “S1” within Sony, will feature a 9.4-inch screen and Android 3.0 “Honeycomb.” But perhaps most interestingly, it won’t be a perfectly flat slate-style tablet like the iPad — instead, one side of the S1 will be curved, similar to rolling up a magazine or paperback book. The inclusion of PlayStation Suite — Sony’s cross-platform framework to bring games to Android devices and its upcoming NGP portable game console — means that Sony is positioning the S1 as a gaming tablet.
The news is certainly more exciting than if Sony announced yet another vanilla-looking Android tablet. The company is no stranger to hardware innovation, and such a unique design could help it stand out in an increasingly crowded tablet market.
According to Engadget, Sony is hard at work retooling Android 3.0 with its own interface. The engineering staff working on it apparently spans Sony’s VAIO, Reader, Playstation and Sony Ericsson groups — a sign that this tablet is a very big deal for the company. The project is being led by the VAIO group, but it will likely launch without VAIO branding. “Sony’s custom-built transitions and UI elements have created a user experience that rivals and at times improves upon the iPad’s renowned experience,” Engadget writes.
The S1 is centered around Sony’s Qriocity service, its on-demand media solution that can deliver games, ebooks, movies and music. In addition to PlayStation Suite support, it will also come loaded with some PlayStation One games.
The S1’s unique curved design will apparently allow for easier one-handed operation than other tablets around 10-inches. The curved edge shifts the device’s center of gravity so that it’s less stressful on your wrist. It also gives the S1 a convenient angled orientation for when you want to place it on a desk and type. The design allows the S1 to feel lighter than the iPad, even though it technically weighs just about the same.
Engadget also points out that despite the hollow looking mock-up design, the S1’s curved edge will contain much of its hardware, including an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and the battery. That means the screen side of the tablet could be much thinner than its competitors.
Sony is aiming to ship the tablet around September for a planned price of $599. Engadget also hints that Sony has another Android 3.0 tablet being developed, which may feature dual screens.