We couldn’t tell whether there was an HDMI port or other video output hidden behind the cover on the left, but for those who have DNLA-compatible televisions, Sony’s unique content-‘throw’ ability allows you to ‘swipe’ content onto the big screen. Simply hold the tablet in front of it, swipe your finger upward off the screen rapidly, and what you’re viewing on the tablet should appear on your TV – ingenious!
Another, even niftier addition, is that the S1 can be used as a universal remote control. And we don’t mean through Wi-Fi or some complicated wireless setup. Sony’s larger tablet actually has an IR emitter built-in so that it can work with pretty much any device you’d care to name, either by inputting a code or learning from the device’s remote. Logitech’s Harmony 1100 had better watch out!
Another feature unique to Sony’s tablets is their PlayStation Suite compatibility. Just like the company’s Xpreia Play, this gives you access to an impressive selection of games, including PlayStation 1 favourites and new titles specifically designed for the mobile devices and their Tegra 2 innards. In yet another nice touch, you’ll be able to hook up a proper PS3 controller to play your games with. Naturally, the S1 will also provide access to Sony’s video and music streaming services.
Aside from this, we didn’t note much that’s surprising. The tablet will sport a version of Android Honeycomb when it’s released. The models we were shown were running version 3.0, but this may well be upgraded before release. The only connectivity we can confirm so far on the S1 is at least one USB 2.0 port (giving it one up on the iPad 2 and Eee Pad Transformer) and a 3.5mm headphone jack, in addition to a selection of physical controls. Front and rear webcams are also on the menu, and both Wi-Fi and 3G versions will be available.
We were given no firm UK pricing or release date, but we reckon prices will be in line with the competition, while we’ll see these puppies on store shelves well before Christmas. The S1 designation is a codename that might well change before release. Whatever it ends up being called, we’re certainly looking forward to something a little different, in a tablet market where many Android models are only really distinguishable by their finish and branding.