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Sony ventures into tablet PC market with Tablet S

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Media captionMelvin Pang from Sony gives a tour of the tablet

Sony's Tablet S is due to arrive in shops in the US, UK and Japan, as the Japanese electronics maker enters the tablet PC market.

The device runs Google's market leading operating system Android and has a wedge-shaped design.

Following the success of Apple's iPad, other manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC have released their own tablets.

Analysts say while Tablet S may prove to be a popular Android tablet, it is not a serious threat to the iPad.

"It looks like the best Android tablet so far," said Abhishek Chauhan, associate director at Frost and Sullivan.

"But I still think it lags behind iPad 2 in terms of overall ease of use, as well as availability of tablet-specific applications."

Innovative design

As it goes head-to-head with the iPad and others, analysts said the Sony Tablet S did have some unique features not available in other devices.

For one, the hardware design, a wedge shape, is different from most other flat, thin tablets.

"The unique form factor shifts the device's weight closer to your palm, making it feel lighter and more comfortable while reading a book or magazine," Sony said in a press release.

Other features include the ability to play PlayStation games on the device and stream music and video to your TV or home entertainment system from the tablet.

However, Mr Chauhan said in order for consumers to be tempted, those features needed to work seamlessly.

"The ease-of-use factor is related to the satisfaction you get when everything is extremely intuitive," he said.

"That is what really works in Apple's favour."

Apple appeal

Even though Sony has come up with some distinctive features, analysts say Apple's first mover advantage and its brand appeal has placed it squarely ahead of all others in the tablet market.

"Whether it's Sony or Samsung it doesn't matter, one of them has to find a compelling reason why I would choose Android over the iPad," said Melissa Chau, research manager for mobile devices at IDC Asia pacific.

"The iPad is far and away number one and that's not going to change any time soon."

But it might still prove a threat to other tablets. Even though Sony entered the market later than many other competitors, the timing could work out in its favour.

"Currently the leading Android tablet is the Galaxy Tab which is facing legal issues, so because of that, [the Sony Tablet S] has a real good chance of becoming the leading Android tablet.

The Tablet S is in stores in the UK on 15 September, the US on 16 September and in Japan on 17 September.

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