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Sony Xperia Tablet Z review

 Review: June 2013  
 

Last updated June 2014

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: Sony's Xperia Tablet Z is the slimmest tablet ever and performs just as well as it looks. It's simply one of the very best tablets available.



 

Design and first impressions

What can we say? First impressions are good - better than good - they are wow! For although this is a full 10 inch tablet, it's astonishingly thin. Measuring just 6.9mm thick, it's even slimmer than the Sony Xperia Z smartphone! It's slimmer than the Samsung Galaxy S4! It's slimmer than the iPhone 5! How is that possible? We don't know, but the effect is - as we already said - wow!

It's significantly lighter and thinner than the iPad 4 too, yet it feels very solid and in no way fragile. The styling is subtle, with very slightly rounded corners softening the rectangular shape. The reflective surfaces do tend to show the fingerprints though.

The display is one of the best you can get on a tablet. It's a big ten-incher, with a sharp 1920 x 1200 resolution giving full 1080p HD detail. It's an LCD screen with LED-backlit TFT display technology producing bright, vivid colours. Sony's Mobile Bravia Engine 2, which impressed us in the Xperia Z smartphone, impresses again here.

Do you have an urgent need to take your tablet swimming, or to watch youtube in the bath? If so, the Z is for you, as it's waterproof to a depth of 1 metre. Perhaps more practically, you can use it in the British summertime without worrying about a little rain.

A fast tablet

Surface impressions are all well and good, but it's what's going on inside that makes the tablet usable. Fear not, because Sony has equipped the Z with a superfast quadcore Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor running at a speed of 1.5GHz. This makes it one of the fastest Android tabs on the block, with only the Google Nexus 10 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 edging slightly ahead. The Adreno 320 GPU adds graphical processing power and supports 3D gaming.

The tablet has plenty of RAM available to it too - 2GB.

It's available with either 16GB or 32GB of built-in memory, and can also accept microSD memory cards, giving plenty of storage space.

Android

The Xperia Z runs Android Jelly Bean 4.1, which gives it features like the Google Now artificial intelligence tool. Pre-installed apps include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Maps, Face Unlock and the Chrome web browser. Google Play opens up the tablet for more apps and content.

Sony has customised Android with apps of its own. The home screen can be customised with wallpaper, themes, widgets and shortcuts and gives you up to 6 home screens for app addicts to organise their stuff. The Socialife app lets you access your news feeds and social media updates in one place.

Camera

We're not big fans of rear-facing cameras in tablets. It's so not a good way to take photos. Still, it's your choice, and if you like to snap with your tab, then the Xperia Z is one of the best snappers available. The 8.1 megapixel CMOS Exmor R sensor gives one of the best performances of any tablet-based camera.

More useful is the front-facing camera that can be used for making video calls. It also uses the CMOS Exmor R sensor for superior low-light performance, and can capture 2.2 megapixel still shots or full HD 1080p video.

Overall, we'd rate the photographic capabilities of this tablet is one of the very best.

Connectivity

Connectivity is yet another area where the tablet excels. Wi-Fi is available for fast data downloads, and you also have Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, HDMI and DLNA. A 3.5mm audio jack lets you plug in your headphones. Screen mirroring with a compatible smartphone is also supported. A built-in IR controller let's you use your tablet to control your TV.

NFC enables one-touch sharing with NFC-enabled devices. Touch the tablet to a compatible laptop or smartphone to share photos, music or other data.

Where most rival tablets depend on Wi-Fi to get their data fix, the Xperia Tablet Z also offers the benefit of fast 4G connectivity, so you can be fully functional even when a Wi-Fi connection isn't available. As well as 4G, the device supports 3G HSPA and GPRS with an EDGE connection, so there's a fallback option wherever you find yourself. For full portability, this is a definite advantage.

The tablet also has assisted GPS and GLONASS, enabling Google Maps to operate to its full potential.

Battery life

The battery isn't the biggest we've seen in a 10 inch tablet. Rated at 6,000mAh, it's at the lower end of what we'd expect for a tablet with this capability. The Nexus 10 has a 9,000mAh battery and the iPad 4's is even bigger. Is this going to be a problem? You can still probably get a day's usage before you have to plug it in at the wall (or USB), and given that this is the thinnest tablet on the market and also one of the most highly featured, we're willing to make this compromise. The battery stamina mode disables Wi-Fi and data traffic when the display is off and can stretch the battery life quite significantly.

Conclusion

The list of things we like about the Xperia Z Tablet is long. First, there's the impossibly slim design and the overall quality feel. Then there's the 10 inch 1080p display with its bright, vivid rendering of images and video. The fast quadcore processor with 2GB RAM and plenty of memory is another highpoint, as are the outstanding photographic capabilities, the 4G connectivity, GPS & GLONASS positioning and NFC. There's also the water resistance, if that suits your lifestyle.

The downsides are few and the only one worth mentioning is the price. At £400 for the 16GB model, it's a pricey tablet, but no more than the iPad 4 or the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Only the Google Nexus 10 can deliver the same sort of performance for less money, but it misses out on 3G/4G connectivity and a memory card slot. Also, it just looks shabby and cheap when placed next to Sony's beauty.

The new Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet is even thinner, faster and lighter!


Sony Xperia Tablet Z features include:

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Reviewed by Paul Bushnell from UK on 14th Sep 2013
Well. What can I say. I got this a week ago to solely use for work as I already own an iPad Mini for personal use. J was presently surprised when I took it out of the box - really slim and light but so well made. Up there with Apple products I'd say. The screen is fantastic, showing vivid colours and rich blacks. Having the facility to use 4G as well as Wifi is a real bonus, especially when your out and about. The battery life so far has proved to be outstanding although it does seem to take quite a while to charge. There appears to be no lag on apps or games but does show a little slowness when opening the browser but certainly isnt a deal breaker. I would thoroughly recommend this tablet as a serious alternative to the iPad. The option to use 4G, a memory card slot and the latest OS for Android are all,big selling points in my opinion. Go for it. You won't be disappointed.
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