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Sony debuts Android tablets; HTC steps things up

by Kristen Nicole

With IFA kicking off this week, you can bet there’s tons of toys in store for Android lovers. This week brought news of new Sony and HTC Android tablets, each making their mark in this red-hot market. Sony Ericsson also revealed the Xperia Arc S smartphone, while Samsung unmasked a new lineup of Galaxy handsets geared towards the masses. Here are this week’s most notable Android devices.

Sony S and P tablets

Sony’s in it for the long haul, focusing its Android devices on quality over quantity. That’s been the case with its Xperia PLAY smartphone for gamers, and the same principle holds true for its debut tablets. The S and P are Sony’s first Android tablets, the P with a clamshell case. The S runs android Honeycomb (3.1 or 3.2), comes with a 9.4-inch IPS display and a Tegra 2 processor, along with Sony TruBlack and Bravia technologies. It supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 4G, and comes in 16GB and 32GB sizes, with a full-size SD memory card reader. With a clear focus on its own technology, there’s cross-device connectivity for controlling Bravia TVs and the PlayStation 3.

The P tablet comes with the same hardware in a dual-screen clamshell design, sporting two 5-inch 1024x480 displays. The screens can work independently or together, so you could use one as a keyboard, or use both for reading e-books. The tablets are set to hit European stores at the end of September, with shipments in the States slotted around the same time. The S & P are priced at $499 and $599 for their respective sizes.

HTC Jetstream

AT&T is scoring big with all the new Android tablets hitting the market, which includes the new HTC Jetstream. The 10-inch device is HTC’s latest Android tablet, hot on the heels of the 7-inch Flyer. Featuring a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, the Jetstream has two cameras including an 8-megapixel shooter with dual LED flash in the rear, and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. HTC’s tablet is also LTE compatible, making it AT&T’s only non-modem LTE device. With a launch date for September 4th, AT&T may have a hard time selling the Jetstream in volume, as it’s priced high at $699 with a 2-year contract. With the new tiered pricing for data users, tablets are becoming pricey little gadgets.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

Sony Ericsson further expands its Xperia line with the newly unveiled Xperia Arc S. The manufacturer was short on details, but we do know it will be powered by a 1.4GHz processor, and will come with Sony’s Reality display, run on the company’s mobile Bravia engine. That indicates a high quality media device, reiterating Sony’s desire to attract a certain demographic (namely existing fans) around its smartphone efforts. The Xperia Arc S will also be able to shoot panoramic photos with its Exmor R image sensor, and images can even be converted to 3D (and subsequently viewed on 3D Bravia TVs). All in all, this is a minor update to the original Xperia Arc, with a bit of extra power. Expect the Xperia Arc S to hit stores in October.

Samsung Galaxy

Samsung’s looking to stay on top of the Android market, despite its recent indications that it’s shifting some efforts towards its own mobile OS, Bada. A new family of Samsung Galaxy devices was launched this week, spanning the Galaxy W, Galaxy M Pro, Galaxy Y and Galaxy Y Pro. Like automobile connotations, this new naming system indicates where in the ranking each device stands, with Galaxy S devices marking flagship products, R (Royal) for premium models, W (Wonder) for mid-range, and M and Y (Magical and Young) for lower end devices. Pro devices are those that come with QWERTY keyboards.

The Galaxy W has a 3.7-inch touchscreen with 800x480 resolution, a 5-megapixel camera, and runs on a single-core 1.4GHz processor. The Galaxy Y has an even smaller screen at three inches, with 320x240 pixel resolution, a 2-megapixel camera and an 832MHz processor. The Galaxy M and Y Pro devices are the business-driven BlackBerry competitors, sporting a 1GHz processor and a 5-megapixel camera. All four devices run on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The release date and carrier information has yet to be confirmed.