With so many iPad(s aapl) lookalikes in the tablet market, it’s actually refreshing to see a new design. And the freshest of them all may be Sony’s new Tablet P with its dual-screens in a folding clamshell case, launching later this year with support for AT&T’s(s t) LTE network.
I’m not convinced the Tablet P will be a tablet sales leader — especially if AT&T continues to think subsidized LTE tablets should cost $699 — but I do credit Sony(s sne) for its efforts in both the hardware and the software on the Tablet P. The clamshell runs on Google Android Honeycomb(s goog), but you might not know it based on this video first-look from Netbook News from the IFA show in Berlin.
Typical of Sony, the Tablet P looks like a refined piece of hardware. The device uses two 5.5-inch IPS displays, allowing for wide viewing angles, although I think I’d find it challenging to get past the bezel between the two screens. And the company is clearly leveraging its other lines of consumer electronics; in the video you can see how the Tablet P searches for and connects to a Sony-branded television and wireless speakers.
Of course, there’s an immediate downside to any device that uses a heavily modified user interface on top of Android when it comes to updates. As Google improves its Android tablet system, Sony will undoubtedly have to spend time and effort to rework such custom user interface elements; a process that can take months if Sony even chooses to make the changes. That means as nice as the Tablet P may look now, it could lag behind other tablets that gain new features and functions through Android updates. The good news is that Sony will have Android 3.2 on the Tablet P when it begins to ship.