Sony Electronics, promising to let you "control the living room," is jumping into the tablet wars with the Xperia Tablet S, an Android 4.0-based device that functions as a universal remote control and features an interactive TV guide that serves up program suggestions based on a user's preferences and social-media feeds.
The 9.3-inch Wi-Fi-only tablet, introduced under Sony's Xperia smartphone brand, runs Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad-core processor and includes an HDMI interface.
The Xperia Tablet S will be available starting Sept. 7 through Sony Stores and other retail outlets in 16, 32 and 64 Gigabyte versions for about $399, $499 and $599 respectively. Sony also will offer accessories for the tablet including an external keyboard and docking stand.
Sony will be fighting for share against not just Apple's market-leading iPad but also tablets from Microsoft, Samsung Electronics, Google, Amazon.com and others.
To stand out from the pack, Sony has equipped the Xperia Tablet S with the ability to control most brands of TVs, cable set-tops, Blu-ray Disc players and audio systems.
In addition, Sony will launch a new visual program guide app, called Watch Now, that will recommend new shows based on a user's tastes and real-time trends from social networks; let users change the channel from the tablet; and chat via Twitter, Facebook and GetGlue. The Sony-exclusive Watch Now app will be available for download for the Xperia Tablet S in the U.S. from Google Play at launch.
"We know that 88% of tablet owners in the U.S. are using their tablets in the living room, and are multitasking with their tablets while watching TV," Phil Lubell, vice president of networked technologies and services at Sony Electronics, said in a statement. "We wanted to enhance that living room experience by providing interactive and useful features with the Xperia Tablet S."
The Xperia Tablet S also will have a preloaded app for Sony Entertainment Network Services, letting users purchase or rent on-demand movies and TV shows; access millions of songs with a Music Unlimited subscription; and store photos and videos in the cloud and share them through the PlayMemories Online service.
On the book front, the tablet will come preloaded with Sony's Reader application. The Scrapbook app, meanwhile, will let users clip content from websites, services or apps to create their own digital scrapbooks.
Also available at launch, Sony is offering a promotion for up to $45 in movie downloads from Google Play. The Xperia Tablet S will come equipped with redemption codes to add three movies from a choice of 15 available movies in Google Play.
More information is available at www.sony.com/tablet.