Android has been available on tablets for almost a full year now, but despite plenty of marketing, a specific version of the OS for tablets and dozens of different versions hitting the market, nobody has been able to even come close to threatening Apple’s iPad dominance. Sony’s Tablet S is the first device with serious potential to differentiate itself from Apple’s device.

Ironically, in a market where Apple has successfully stopped Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the Australian market due to patent infringements, it’s the unique design of the Tablet S that makes it stand out from the crowd.

Featuring a rolled over design that sees one side significantly thicker than the other, Sony have created an elegant design that should be unique enough to stave off Apple’s lawyers. But the Japanese giant has also managed to squeeze in some clever technology to make the device considerably more useful.

For example, all along the thicker, rounded edge of the tablet are IR transmitters, which turns the device into a powerful universal remote. Sony is bundling universal remote software on the device that can control pretty much any device with an IR receiver, and setup looks to be incredibly simple. Given the high number of people who use tablets while watching TV, including this functionality seems obvious.

Another clever inclusion that sets Sony apart is software that makes DLNA networking incredibly useful. Generally, DLNA has been a touch and go affair, with the act of sharing content across devices on the network a convoluted mess, to put it nicely. Sony’s software team has created an elegant solution that lets you fling content from the tablet to different DLNA devices on the network by dragging it on the Tablet S screen.

With Playstation Certification, the device is also capable of playing PSOne games natively, which is made more enjoyable by the ability to customise the location of the controls on the touchscreen to suit your hands and gaming style.

Launching in October in Australia, the Tablet S will start at $579 for 16GB, or $689 for 32GB, although neither version offers 3G connectivity.