REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z Tablet

Sony's ultra-thin, ultra-light new tablet has some serious 'wow' factor and shakes up the standards set by Apple and Google.

Graph for REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z Tablet

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z has some serious 'wow' factor. While recently released smartphones and tablets have mostly tinkered around the edges,with incremental improvements to hardware, the Xperia Z tablet is here to shake things up.

There’s plenty to like about the Xperia tablet’s design: an impressively slim 6.9mm device which is not only thinner than other 10” inch tablets but also puts the iPhone 5 to shame.

Equally impressive is the fact that Sony has managed to fit all the necessary ports and battery without putting on much weight. The water and dustproof device weighs in at just 495 grams. That’s 24 per cent lighter than the latest iPad and 18 per cent lighter than a Google Nexus 10.

This is a formidable offering from Sony, but then again it has to be, because the Xperia tablet goes into battle against heavyweight competition like Google and Apple.

Both the Nexus 10 and the iPad are significantly thicker and heavier than the Xperia Tablet Z but boast the advantages of larger battery capacity, higher screen resolution and slightly faster speeds. 

The Xperia Tablet Z is shipped with Android 4.1.2 which is one version behind and Sony has promised that it will be updated to 4.2.x soon. While Sony have made changes to the stock Android software it has not been heavy handed and the modifications do not appear to slow down the tablet.

The only suggestion to buyers would be to replace Sony’s custom keyboard software with the much better Google Nexus Keyboard, available for free from the Play Store and easily switched to.

Apart from the sleek design and the weight, the device is also IP57 certified with ports sealed by protective flaps. To use the other tablets in a tough, wet or dusty environment would require a special case that would increase total weight even more. The final advantage the Xperia Tablet Z has is a cool factor that no Android tablet has had to date.

Now onto the weaknesses, while the Xperia Tablet Z’s LED-backlit LCD screen is not quite as high resolution as the Google Nexus 10 and 4th generation Apple iPad it’s quite bright and displays images / videos very well.

One unavoidable result of its thinness is that the 6000 mAh battery capacity is only 2/3rds that of the Google Nexus 10 and just over half the size of the 4th generation Apple iPad. Speakers are placed at bottom left and right corners on the sides.

Volume level is OK but not very loud and audio quality is a bit tinny.

In terms of pricing, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z ranges from $539 for 16GB WiFi, to $679 for 16GB 4G & Wi-Fi. 

Paying $649 for the Xperia Tablet Z 32GB Wi-Fi seems pointless when you could buy the cheaper 16GB WiFi model and add up to 64GB storage via the microSD slot or buy the WiFi and 4G enabled model instead for better connectivity.

In comparison, the Google Nexus 10 is $469 16GB and $569 32GB with no expandable storage or LTE option.

The 4th generation Apple iPad has 8 models with no expandable storage, ranging from $539 for 16GB WiFi to $1009 for 128GB WiFi and 4G.

Business users who need a tough 10” inch tablet that’s light enough to hold in one hand, is IP57 certified for use in damp or dusty environments, with a shatterproof and scratch-resistant screen and a high resolution 8MP camera, will find the Xperia Tablet Z a great match for their needs.

The Xperia Tablet won’t suit everyone but it has substantial appeal and key features that are unmatched by competitors. Most of all this is the best chance for Sony to get some reward for its persistence, whose devices so far haven’t been able to turn heads.

Sony has upped the ante when it comes to design with the Xperia Tablet Z, and the overall specs and functionality isn’t bad. We will have to wait and see if that’s enough to make it irresistible to buyers.

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