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Sony S1 and S2 Tablets Hands-on: Are They Good Enough?

We just got up close and personal with Sony's two upcoming tablets, the S1 and S2, and Sony demonstrated why it thinks its devices are better than the Android Honeycomb competition and iPad. Get all the details below along with a video and full gallery.

Design: The S1 features a slick "fold" design that Sony says feels better when using it one handed. When flat on a table, the device is propped up slightly, making it easier to type. For the S2, which AT&T will be selling with 4G HSPA+, it's all about the dual screens. The two 5.5-inch displays close up in a compact clamshell design, which allows users to slip the device into a breast pocket or purse. The S2 leverages the two screens so that the bottom one displays information, like gameplay controls, while the top panel shows content. Unfortunately, Sony doesn't have plans to sell a Wi-Fi only version of the S2 at this point. It's 4G or nothing.

Faster Than Other Android Tablets: Both the S1 and S2 feature two technologies that Sony is touting as unique; they're designed to enable "swift and smooth" performance. The first innovation is Quick View, which allows the tablets to load web pages faster than other slates. The technology loads images first and then JavaScript. In a side-by-side demo of an S1 tablet with Quick View on another with the feature turned off, the Quick View-enabled slate loaded sites several seconds faster. (Why you'd ever turn it off we don't know.)

The second technology that's unique to the S1 and S2 is Quick Touch Panel. This allows very smooth and fast touch performance. You won't see any lag when you manipulate these tablets with your finger, whether you're scrolling around webpages or pinching to zoom in. We confirmed this with a quick hands on. It's fast.

Network Entertainment and PlaySation Games: As you might expect, Sony S1 and S2 tablet owners will have access to Sony eBooks, music and video from Qriocity, and PlayStation-certified games. That last bit means users will be able to play PS1 and PSP titles. Both the S1 and S2 will come pre-loaded with Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Hero.

In a quick demo of Crash Bandicoot on the S2, the 3D graphics were smooth, but having the whole 5.5-inch screen on the bottom dedicated to the gameplay buttons seemed like a bit of wasted space. We asked about titles that are truly optimized touch input, and Sony says those are coming. As you'll see in the video, Crash plays at full screen on the S1, with the buttons arranged around the side of the screen.

Remote Control and DLNA: Sony is trying to tell a better together story with its tablets and how they work with the company's TVs. The S1 (not the S2) features an IR blaster that allows you to control home entertainment components. To add a device you just select the manufacturer and category. In Sony's demo they fired up a TV and a Blu-ray movie from across the room. The remote app itself on the tablet has two layouts: the first allows you to adjust the volume with a flick up or down or rewind or fast forward by swiping to the left or right. The second menu has all the buttons.

Both the S1 and S2 are DLNA compatible, and the promise is that you'll be able to "flick" video, music, photos over to your TV over your home network. We'd like to see how easy it is versus AirPlay.

AIR Apps Coming: In other news, Sony and Adobe are working together to bring Adobe Air apps to the Sony tablets, and is giving developers a chance to win $200,000 as part of a contest. We haven't been impressed with Air apps thus far on the BlackBerry PlayBook, so we hope Sony and Adobe can cook up better stuff for these two tablets.

Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.