Sony Vaio Hybrid and Slate tablet concepts showcase new form factors, flexible materials (video)

Black, bezeled and rectangular? That's pretty much the go-to design for tablets nowadays. But lately Sony's been straying from the pack and taking a different aesthetic tack, which it recently showcased with the Tablet S and P. On the showroom floor at CES, however, the company had two newer models secured behind glass to give consumers a sense of future form factors. These prototypes -- known prospectively as the Hybrid and Slate -- fall under the Vaio brand and clearly highlight an exciting direction for the Japanese electronics giant's impending offerings.

The Hybrid's most distinctive feature is its marriage of laptop functionality with tablet portability. Sliding the unit up and locking it into place reveals a keyboard in front (shown with a dedicated Windows button) and an expansive speaker grill behind. The company wouldn't elaborate on the materials used in the enclosure, but that sparkly, copper color manages to toe the line between cheap and space age -- a definite contradiction, for sure. At the base of the 11-inch unit is a dock that fits an included stylus, as this tablet is being designed to support touch pen input, in addition to the typical capacitive touch. None of the ports on the device are final, but when and if it ever ships, you can expect the usual array.

For a true glimpse into the next generation of tablet manufacturing, you need only look to Sony's tablet Slate -- the real stunner of this conceptual duo. With its use of a smart, soft touch flexible material -- the company refused to elaborate on just what -- that extends from the unit's back for easy table top mounting, it's easy to see a product like this setting consumers' interest on fire and nabbing that lust-worthy tech crown. Unfortunately, this particular scifi casing is more than likely a few years off, but it's good to see the company innovating and attempting to break free from the shackles of ordinary builds. The Slate is also designed to work with a wireless keyboard that shares the same intelligent material and appears to incorporate a touch interface. Click on through the galleries below for a tour of these two proof of concepts and make sure to click on past the break for a brief video tour.