Sony's New Tablets Are Pretty But Not That Great

The Tablet S and folding Tablet P start shipping in September

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After months of anticipation, Sony released a telling crop of details about its new tablet lineup at the IFA conference in Berlin on Wednesday. The magazine-like Tablet S and the taco-like Tablet P represent Sony's late-to-the-game iPad challenge, and according to the gadget bloggers, it's a weak one. Nevertheless, Sony deserves some credit for being bold.

Engadget and This Is My Next gave the Tablet S a test drive and seemed not so enthusiastic about its performance but excited about its unique design. "In a world of interchangeable rectangular slabs of glass (and patent litigation to match) it's genuinely pleasing to see something so different," writes Tim Stevens at Engadget. "The problem is, it's just different--not necessarily better." Joshua Topolsky at This Is My Next found the software to be "messy," though he was careful to point out that it isn't the final version. With an anticipated price point of $499 for a 16GB and $599 for a 32GB tablet, the Tablet S compares with the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. Sony's new device needs to compete. "There’s no question that Sony has the raw materials--hardware know-how, a big ecosystem, great brands like PlayStation--to deliver a serious competitor in the tablet space," says Topolsky. "But that competitor is not the Tablet S."

Those who didn't actually use the new Sony tablets were slightly more optimistic. Ricardo Bilton at ZDNet thinks that "both devices act as pretty clear proof that Apple isn’t the only tablet manufacturer with good ideas." Matt Burns at TechCrunch called the bold new design "awesome" and said, "The radical designs might not catch on, but they feel like the Sony of old … a Sony that is not afraid to hit the market like a arrogant male teenager, full of testosterone and bravado."

Sony can't survive on bravado alone, though. As analyst Sarah Rotman told The Guardian, "Sony is no copycat … but 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." HP knows a thing or two about this. After the company killed off their entire line of iPad killers, the TouchPad is a bargain!

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.