Sony expands content provider role with tablet-like device

Sony expands content provider role with tablet-like device

Sony on Thursday started shipping a tablet-like device with a 7-inch touchscreen called "Dash," which will sit on table tops and deliver select Internet content without the need for a PC.

The device, called a "personal Internet viewer," includes a 7-inch diagonal touchscreen and Wi-Fi capabilities through which it will be able to play back Internet content including TV shows, movies and music. Sony has partnered with CBS, Netflix, YouTube and online radio service Pandora to deliver content to the device.

Beyond multimedia, consumers will also receive e-mail from services like Gmail and connect to social networking services. The device will display Facebook and Twitter status updates. In total, users will have access to more than 1,000 applications, Sony said in a statement.

The LCD touch screen will display images at a 800-by-480 pixel resolution, and automatically orients images depending on the placement of the screen. USB ports help expand storage capabilities of the device.

The device does not require a PC to function and content is automatically delivered to the device, Sony said. The device provides access to a "diverse network of more than 30 video channels," the company said.

Dash is priced at $199 and is available in the US. The company did not respond to a request for comment on worldwide availability.

The device could be a step forward in Sony's attempt to play a larger role as a content provider for its consumer electronics. The Wall Street Journal in March <a href="">reported </a>] that Sony was developing an online media platform called Sony Online Service to offer movies, music, games and television shows. The online service is meant to counter Apple's iTunes store.

To support the content store, the Journal also reported that the company was developing a set of tablet-like devices and smartphones that will include Web browsing, multimedia, e-reading and gaming functions. Sony was also reported to be developing a smartphone that can download and play PlayStation games.

Besides Sony, many companies are experimenting with ways to display customized Internet content on screens.

Hewlett-Packard last year announced the DreamScreen, a tabletop device with Wi-Fi that could display content from the Web without needing to be hooked up to a PC. The device has received mixed reviews on sites like, with some praising its functionality, while others criticizing its limited capabilities.

Intel has also shown off TV sets and set-top boxes that run small Web applications that it says can complement TV viewing. For example, a group of friends on MySpace could chat with each other about a program they are watching.

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