Sony, which once set the standard for consumer electronics, is today playing catch-up in the hottest gadget war this side of the Walkman. Seventeen months after the iPad debuted and six months after the iPad 2, Sony is scheduled to release the Tablet S on Sept. 16. The company is entering a market that's littered with casualties. The Motorola Xoom and the RIM Playbook sales are exceptionally low. Hewlett-Packard just had a fire sale of its remaining Touchpads (and then announced a new strategy for re-entering the market after rapidly selling out of the remaining inventory). The only true competitor to date, Samsung's Galaxy Tab, which some estimate to have captured 17 percent of market share in Europe and higher elsewhere, lost an injunction to sell in Europe and Australia because the look and feel was too much like the iPad. Sony will also compete with a new Amazon tablet, which the retail giant is slated to bring to market before Christmas under the Kindle brand. Amazon may be best suited to compete with Apple because of its extensive ecosystem. Amazon already proved it can succeed with a tablet-like device with the Kindle. In fact, the Kindle took market share away from the Sony's E-Ink Reader for the very same reason. Although the Sony Reader came with free public domain books, it failed to provide an easy way to download current best-sellers. It was possible, but Amazon made it effortless. The Sony Tablet S may follow the same fate. Though it has both a music download feature and a cloud-based storage service, they're not as seamless – or as well-known for that matter -- as the ones from Amazon and Apple. And, the fact that the Amazon tablet hasn't yet been released may cause those who are looking for an iPad alternative to take a wait-and-see approach. The only area left in which to compete is price. The $99 HP Touchpad fire sale proved that cost is definitely a factor for consumers. Of course, $99 is too low, but a tablet that is similar to the iPad that undercuts the price by $100 might do pretty well. Sony will never know; it's pricing the Tablet S at $499.  Here are the rest of the specs:
  • Android Honeycomb operating system
  •  NVIDIA Tegra2 processor
  • Front and rear camera. Front 0.3 megapixel. Rear 5.0 megapixel
  • Bluetooth integrated stereo
  • Full-size SD Card slot (for media exchange only)