Three major Japanese electronics manufacturers on Jan. 21 unveiled new tablet computers packed with selling points such as thinness, toughness and TV readiness to compete with popular foreign entries that dominate the domestic market.
With their new models, Sony Mobile Communications Inc., Panasonic Corp. and NEC Corp. are taking aim at foreign tablets, such as the iPad of U.S.-based Apple Inc. and the Nexus 7 of Google Inc. in the United States, which control about 90 percent of the market in Japan.
Sony Mobile plans to lure customers in the red-hot tablet market with the Xperia Tablet Z, which it is proclaiming the world’s thinnest 10.1-inch tablet. At only 6.9 millimeters thick and weighing only 495 grams, the Xperia Tablet Z is 25 percent thinner and lighter than the iPad, Sony said.
The new Sony tablet is compatible with LTE, a standard for high-speed communication and will be released by NTT DoCoMo Inc. as early as March.
Sony Mobile also plans to market a different model compatible with wireless local area network (WLAN) services, but prices are yet to be set for either model, company officials said.
Panasonic is fighting the influx of foreign tablets with its Toughpad JT-B1, which can endure harsh environments and rugged use, as its name suggests. The company said its 7-inch Toughpad can endure a drop from a height of 150 centimeters, withstand temperatures between minus 10 degrees and 50 degrees, and be used even in dusty conditions and survive being submerged in strong currents.
Panasonic said the Toughpad's resistance to vibrations is high enough to meet U.S. military standards. Expected to carry a price tag of around 90,000 yen ($1,004), the tablet will initially be targeted at corporate customers.
NEC also announced the release of the Life Touch L TLX7W/ 1A, a 10.1-inch tablet bundled with a TV tuner for terrestrial and satellite broadcasts. Users can watch TV programs on a high-definition screen by connecting the tuner, the size of a compact dictionary, via cable to an antenna terminal.
If a hard disk, which can be purchased separately, is connected to the tuner, users can transfer prerecorded programs to the tablet and watch them at their leisure, the company said.
The new Life Touch tablet will be released Jan. 31 and carry a price tag of around 65,000 yen, NEC officials said.
(This article was written by Junichiro Nagasaki and Takashi Kamiguri)
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