Can the Sony S1 and S2 tablets capture Apple's allure?

Sony will launch two new tablets before the end of the year. But do the S1 and S2 really stand a chance against the Apple iPad and Xoom?

Sony S1 and S2 are shown at an event in Tokyo. The two Sony tablets will enter an already-crowded tablet market.

And the tablet market continues to swell. The latest entrants? The S1 and S2, a pair of tablet computers from the folks over at Sony. (S1 and S2 are code-names. Note to Sony branding team: We vote for Tiger Venom Tablet Extravaganza and Tiger Venom Tablet Extravaganza 2, when these things actually hit shelves.) According to early reports from Tokyo, where the tablets were unveiled, the S1 is a regular old 9.4-inch tablet machine –– flat and shiny.

The S2, on the other end, is a "clamshell" device, which opens up like a flip phone, and includes two 5.5-inch touch screens. Both the S1 and the S2 will run Google's Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system; both devices will connect to the Web via 3G and Wi-Fi antennas. No details yet on pricing or release date. So how will the S1 and S2 fare in the already-crowded tablet market?

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Over at ZDNet, Larry Dignan points out that the market is already stuffed full of Honeycomb tablets –– the underwhelming Xoom among them. As we reported earlier this month, Motorola sold only about 100,000 Xoom units since that device launched in February. By comparison, Apple – the current king of the tablet heap – apparently sold somewhere between 400,000 to 500,000 iPad 2 units in the first weekend that device was available.

"The good news so far is that it’s early in the tablet game, but Apple isn’t standing still," Dignan writes. "Apple operating chief Tim Cook said on the company’s earnings call that Android devices expect the customer to be the systems integrator. So far, Cook’s assessment is about right since tablet makers haven’t put all the pieces together just yet. Will Sony be the big winner?"

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