Rather than trying to simply mimic the admittedly beautiful design of the iPad, as so many other tablets seem to do, Sony opted for largely original designs for its two tablet computers. Of course, each had obvious influences, but they've at least made the effort. Even better, because these tablets run on Android operating systems, they were obvious candidates for Sony's "PlayStation Certified" label, which was launched with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play smartphone.
The two tablets, originally called the S1 and S2, but now re-named Tablet S and Tablet P, both run Android (3.1 and 3.2) and can both be used for wireless sharing with other suitably-enabled home entertainment devices.
Sony Tablet S
The Tablet S is the most obviously tablet-y (if I can invent a word) of the two. From dead-on it looks much like most of the other tablets on the market, with a black bezel and glass surface. From the side, though, it's a little different. Sony designers came up with an interesting wedge shape that should make using the device while it's resting on a table more convenient, at least in landscape orientation.
With a 9.4 inch touchscreen, the Tablet S is "optimized for rich media entertainment" (whatever that means) and is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 2 mobile processor. It will come in 16 GB and 32 GB Wi-Fi-only versions, plus a 16 GB Wi-Fi plus 3G version (only the Wi-Fi versions will be available at launch in September 2011--the 3G will follow in November). The Tablet S will have a USB 2.0 port and an SD card slot (not a Memory Stick slot, fortunately). The device will not be able to play files directly off of the SD card, though; you'll have to transfer items to the onboard memory first (so you can't use an SD card to expand the device's memory). Both front and rear facing cameras are also included.
Sony Tablet P
The Tablet P is much more of a departure in terms of its form factor. It has a clamshell design with two screens, rather reminiscent of a Nintendo DS when viewed head-on. The only other tablet I can think of with a folding design is Microsoft's Courier, which seems to have dropped off the radar lately.
The two screens are both 5.5 inch touchscreens and can be used separately or as one large screen. So a game, for example, could run on the top screen, while the virtual controls appear on the bottom screen. Or the bottom could be a keyboard while the top displays what's being typed. The small size when folded makes it "geared for mobile communication entertainment," apparently. Like the Tablet S, the Tablet P has USB and SD card ports, and both front and rear facing cameras. It will come in one version, with both Wi-Fi and 3G, to launch in November 2011.
Like Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play smartphone, both of Sony's tablets are PlayStation Certified. This means they have access to a portion of the PlayStation Store and can run downloaded PlayStation (PS1) and PSP games. And because they are also both Android devices, they will be able to access and run games from the Android Market, some of which are optimized for PlayStation Certified devices (I think--I know there are optimized games for the Xperia Play).
Whether or not Sony' entries into the tablet market will do well or fail miserably remains to be seen, but the combination of both Android and PlayStation, plus a host of other features (like access to Sony's Reader Store e-bookstore, Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited cloud-based services, and more) should give it a good chance. For someone who wants a tablet but doesn't want an iPad, this might be the best pick.