By Patrick Avenell (Follow me on Twitter)

With all the pomp and circumstance of a prizefighter entering the ring for another bout, Sony today launched its first Tablet device into the Australian market.

At a press event in Sydney, local managing director Carl Rose began proceedings with a catalogue of all the unfortunate events that have afflicted Sony globally over the last 12 months.

“It’s not going too far to say it’s been terrible [year] for Sony,” he said. “We’ve had earthquakes, tsunamis, criminal hacking and a warehouse fire in North London as part of the riots.

“What I believe you’ll see for yourself here today is that no matter what gets thrown at us, the innovative and pioneering spirit of Sony will not be broken.

“In fact, I’ve seen a few signs over the last few weeks and months that that determination has actually been enhanced.”

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Although Sony Australia was launching new Alpha and Cyber-shot cameras, E-Readers and Vaio PCs, it was the Sony Tablet S that drew most attention.

Available by the end of October 2011, the Sony Tablet is a 9.4-inch Android Honeycomb device available in 16GB and 32GB variations. Both RRPs mirror the corresponding Wi-Fi only iPad 2s, with Sony’s Brenden Woolley quoting respective price points of $579 and $689. Woolley also confirmed that a 3G model would be available sometime in 2012 as part of a global roll-out.

Unlike the flat tablets that dominate this crowded market, the Sony Tablet S is wedge shaped, with the wider edge of this form factor housing a full SD Card slot and a MicroUSB port. Charging is via a dedicated proprietary port, which also acts as a dock for a charging stand.

The Tablet’s engine is an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core mobile processor. The touchscreen is WXGA (1,280 x 800); there are two cameras (0.3MP front and 5MP back with video capture); Bluetooth 2.1; and a quoted battery life of up to 8 hours with standard browsing, music and video usage.

A novel feature not oft seen is an infrared out signal which is able to communicate with multiple devices (including non-Sony products), transforming the Tablet S into a universal remote of sorts.

Additional uniqueness includes PlayStation certification, which means users can play original PS games on the Tablet S. Preloaded at launch are two games: Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Heroes.

Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited are also supported, though launch consumers will have to download the dedicated app after purchase. Woolley said MPEG4 and H.264 were supported video formats.

Sony quotes dimensions of 241.2 x 10.1 x 174.3 millimetres (with a maximum thickness of 20.6 millimetres). Sony quoted weight is 598 grams.

Suffice to say Sony Australia supplied this image of the whole family enjoying the Tablet S.