Rumours have been circulating for some time that the Sony part of the joint venture was working on a distinctive tablet device, and perhaps the real questions were "when will it launch?", "what name will be on it?" and "how much will it cost?"
The answers to these questions are: the "fall" (so Q3 probably), "Sony" and "probably quite a lot".
Codenamed the Sony Tablet S1 and S2, this pair of tablets tries very hard to be different from the normal black slabs of metal, glass and plastic. The most conventional one is the Sony Tablet S1 which features a 9.4" display and an "off-centre of gravity" design that moves the weight nearer to the top of the unit (when held in landscape or "wide" mode). The Sony Tablet S2 does something very different and packs dual 5.5" displays with a hinge in between them, a highly unusual design that's perhaps a little like a mutant Nintendo DS.
Both tablets run Android 3.0, and can use either WiFi or potentially a 3G or 4G network. Sony have added their own enhancements such as the Qriocity video and music service, compatibility with first generation PlayStation titles, access to Sony's eBook store plus DLNA compatibility with a variety of devices so you can "throw" content from the tablet to a flat screen TV (for example). The Sony Tablets can also be used to control a BRAVIA TV set if you really fancy using the world's largest remote control.
Hardware specifications are not known, and the preview images that Sony have shared are subject to change. The real "wow factor" is with the hinged S2, although quite how usable the split screen arrangement will be is questionable, bearing in mind that there is a bezel running through the middle of the screen which might spoil web surfing and movie viewing. The S2 does look fantastic when closed though, with a curved design that is reminiscent of Sony's PS3 range.
With one of the most desirable brands in the world on the case combined with some innovative design, these two Sony Tablets could finally provide some serious competition to the Apple iPad 2 - but rumours are that Apple might announce their next-generation iPad 3 somewhere near the launch date for these two Sony devices which could make Apple's position even harder to beat.