Sony updates the Tablet S, introduces new touch VAIOs

The all new Sony Xperia Tablet S

The next generation of tablets from Sony has been unveiled at IFA in Germany, and Sony isn’t betting on Android alone, with the company showing off a new range of computers showing more than just the simple tablet platform that throws some interesting design twists in.

First and foremost, Sony’s original iPad competitor – the Tablet S – is receiving an update, coming in the form of the Xperia Tablet S.

Sony is doing away with the plastic body that we saw in the 2011 model, replacing it with a slimmer aluminium body with what the company says is a splash-proof design, which should please those of you taking tablets to the bathroom.

The screen is still a 9.4 inch display, but the innards have been updated with the Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor seen on other tablets, with storage coming in 16 and 32GB varieties.

As usual, WiFi is included, as is Bluetooth 3.0, 3G on one model, an 8 megapixel rear camera, 1 megapixel front camera, SD memory card slot, GPS, Infrared, and this year’s favourite version of Android – version 4.0, also known as “Ice Cream Sandwich.”

Outside of the updated design and specs, Sony is adding new accessories that aim to offer a better experience for customers, with docks, stands, and even covers with a built-in keyboard.

No word on if Sony will be updating its folding dual-screen Tablet P yet, but VAIO is also getting a leg up this year, with the touch-friendly Windows 8 giving Sony a reason to throw a touchscreen into pretty much every computer it’s releasing.

“Windows 8 is a significant step change for personal computing, and this new operating system has allowed Sony to do what we do best with our VAIO range: focus on design, performance and the user experience,” said Sony Australia’s Jun Yoon.

“With new ways to combine work and play, each of our new VAIO touch models have been built to make it easy to switch from a productive work day to pure entertainment.”

The latest VAIO L-Series desktop (we reviewed last year’s model) is pretty much ready to go already, with a 24 inch multi-touchscreen, Blu-ray, 2.1 channel speaker system, and even glasses-free 3D on some models, so Sony doesn’t need to do much upgrading there.

But with laptops, Sony hasn’t had a touchscreen VAIO notebook before, and that’s where the new stuff really shines.

First there’s the VAIO Duo 11 (above), an 11.6 inch Ultrabook Touch with a Full HD screen, digital stylus, 18mm thickness, 1.3 kilogram weight, and a fold back design that features a keyboard under the screen that you can always take with you.

It’s definitely not the same detachable screen design that we’re seeing from other companies, with Sony going for a tablet that always has access to the keyboard no matter where you are.

Intel’s third-generation Core processors will be used here with Windows 8, as well as Near-Field Communication (NFC), Bluetooth, USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet, and a digital stylus for writing and drawing directly on the touchscreen.

Next is the VAIO T Series 13, an Ultrabook laptop made up of magnesium and aluminium and sporting a 13.3 touchscreen, Intel Core processors, and solid-state drives.

The VAIO E Series 14 is another Ultrabook Touch with a 14 inch touchscreen and no bezel, as well as Intel processing technology and what we expect will be a conventional hard drive to offer more storage for on the go.

Finally, there’s the Sony VAIO Tap 20 (below), a very different style of tablet.

Designed for people who want a big and comfortable tablet, the Tap is a 20 inch touchscreen computer with a massive battery. Windows 8 is still the operating system of choice, and the Tap 20 incorporates a built-in stand, so you can lean it up and watch videos on it, or lean it back and use it like the biggest touchscreen computer you’ve ever seen.

The screen on offer is one of the In-Plane Switching (IPS) displays, which should offer a wide viewing angle – so everyone can watch – and Sony is throwing in Mobile Bravia Engine tech to make on-screen video more fluid.

Like most things out of IFA this year, no local pricing has been announced as of yet, though Sony has said these computers should hit retail from the end of October 2012.