Sony to launch iPad rival

Sony is planning to launch a tablet computer rival to Apple's iPad later this year.

The product code-named S1, unveiled today in Tokyo, comes with a 9.4 inch display for enjoying online content, such as movies, music, video games and electronics books, and for online connections, including email and social networking.

Sony also showed S2, a smaller mobile device with two 5.5 inch displays that can be folded like a book.

It did not give prices. But a spokesman said they would be competitive when they go on sale worldwide from about September. Both run Google's Android 3.0 operating system.

The announcement of Sony's key net-linking offerings comes as it tries to fix the failure of its PlayStation Network, which offers games and music online.

It is unclear when that can start running again. Sony has blamed the problem on an "external intrusion" and has acknowledged it would have to rebuild its system to add security measures and strengthen its infrastructure.

The spokesman said both of the latest tablets feature Sony's "saku saku," or nifty, technology that allows for smooth and quick access to online content and for getting browsers working almost instantly after a touch.

Sony, which makes the Vaio personal computer and PlayStation 3 video game console, has lost some of its past glory - once symbolised in its Walkman portable music player that pioneered personal music on-the-go in the 1980s, catapulting the Japanese company into a household name around the world.

It has been struggling against flashier and more efficient rivals including Apple with its iPhone, iPod and iPad machines, as well as South Korea's Samsung, from which Sony purchases liquid-crystal displays, a key component in flat-panel TVs.