Pros : Very thin and lightweight; Great screen; Quad core processor; Impressive camera.
Cons : Poor battery life; costly.
Verdict : Sony has created an almost-perfect device in the shape of the Sony Xperia Tablet Z – it’s powerful, great-looking and has some fun features as well – all crammed into a slim chassis. This does all come at a high price though, and battery life is a bit disappointing.
Sony’s tablets haven’t always met with rapturous applause from the pundits, but it looks like that all might have changed with the introduction of the stunning Sony Xperia Tablet Z – one of the slimmest Android tablets on the market – and it’s good looking to boot. Sony has managed to cram some really handy features into the slim chassis, as well as a stunning HD display. This is one desirable all-rounder of a top-end tablet, which is portable, and ideal for browsing the web, gaming and watching movies.
The Xperia Tablet Z is not only thin but really light too – weighing in at only 495g – it’s one of the lightest 10.1in tablets we’ve come across. It means there’s no problem holding it with one hand, even though it’s not quite as comfy as the 7in Google Nexus 7.
The tablet echoes the looks of Sony’s Xperia Z smartphone – yet unbelievably it’s actually slimmer than the handset, coming in at just 6.9mm. Its design is rectangular, there’s an all-glass front panel and the back is rubberised and soft to touch. While the back manages to avoid greasy smudges, the front is something of a fingerprint magnet – and the small gap between the glass and the edge will pick up crumbs and other bits, especially if you fling it in your bag a lot. Having said that, it’s an incredibly good-looking device, even though it won’t stay shiny and perfect for long.
We expected some lack of rigidity because the device is so slim – and sure, pull it at the edges and it does bend, and you can see distortion on the screen, but the device is actually very well built considering how thin it is. We wouldn’t like to drop it, but it will withstand sitting in your bag without falling apart. The ports are all covered too, so it is splashproof should you get caught out in the rain.
The screen boasts a high-def 1920x1200 resolution and measures 10.1 inches. It is, truly wonderful. Okay, it may attract every smudge going, but it’s a joy to watch HD films on. Images are colourful and crisp and there’s no motion blur or distortion to ruin your pleasure. Wide angles are impressive, so you can share your movie with a friend or two.
The display also offers an enjoyable web experience – although we prefer the square aspect ratio that the iPad offers. We saw quick loading of web pages using Wi-Fi, and scrolling was smooth and simple. We could easily zoom in and out with a pinch.
The power that makes the tablet so speedy (see below) along with that huge bright HD display does put some pressure on the battery. Even when we had the tablet plugged into the mains, we lost battery power while we were using it – and that was with the screen brightness turned right down. Stream video and you’ll see a fully charged battery dies in less than four hours. It takes some time to charge again too, even if the device is switched off.
Sony has managed to cram a quad-core processor into this tiny frame. Our performance test got off to a rather shaky start when the device crashed as we tried to load Shadowgun: Deadzone, but
after that we had no problems at all. All the latest games ran well, and the touchscreen proved responsive to every prod and swipe. The Tablet Z even managed to keep its cool – only getting a little warm after we’d done some serious gaming.
The Tablet Z comes with plenty of preloaded Sony apps – whether you like this or not is a matter of opinion. Happily, they’re easy to uninstall should you wish, and you’ll free up some of your storage (the tablet comes in 16GB and 32GB versions).
Playstation games store, OfficeSuite and Sony’s own Socialife app can be found onboard. The latter acts as a hub for Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds. Posts are shown in a nice tile formation, which is rather like Flipboard. Friends’ photos appear on the main page so you don’t have to keep clicking through – which is nice. It all seems a bit more stable than last time we used it – refreshing is a simple matter of pulling down to allow new posts to pop in. The only annoying feature is that changing the orientation of the tablet sends you right back to the top of the feed again.
Keep snappers happy
Tablet snappers aren’t always impressive, but the 8.1MP snapper on the Tablet Z is one of the best we’ve seen – boosted by Sony’s Superior Auto mode. This gives you great results wherever you are – in blazing sun or in a dimly lit room. However, it’s not a miracle worker and there’s no flash, so don’t expect too much from night time snaps.
There are loads of features on the snapper, such as panorama mode for grabbing landscapes and burst shot mode for taking a number of snaps in quick succession. There’s a facility for taking HD video and adding some cool filters too. The front-facing 2.2megapixel camera is great for video chats or self portraits.
NF support is also offered. It’s great for Sony fans, who can connect up compatible speaker and headphones to stream music, or back up tablet content to a NAS – you can even control your TV. The Remote Control app lets you connect to any home theatre system, stereo, DVD player, TV, set-top box and so on and use the tablet as a remote control – complete with full programming guide.
Sony has excelled itself with the Xperia Tablet Z, which is thinner than most smartphones and a real must-have device. There’s plenty of power to run everything smoothly thanks to the quad-core chip, and watching films, browsing the web and other tasks is a joy with all that power and that stunning screen. It is expensive – up there with Apple’s iPad – and battery power is a little disappointing. If you don’t want to spend so much, you could choose Google’s Nexus 10, which offers a similar experience for £80 less.< Back
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