- Water resistance is novel & useful
- Ports under flaps can get irksome
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z, nothing short of a supermodel.
Looking lithe, poised and (to use Tyra Banks’ vernacular) fierce, it will make you look better, onlookers will stop and stare and it will turn heads when it goes for a swim. But is it any good?
Sony Xperia Tablet Z: Design and display
Thanks to the stylish, matte fibreglass finish, emaciated 6.9mm body, and a feather-weight of just 490g, the Tablet Z is made to be held.
It’s also the cleanest, most classically styled tablet out, with lines, right angles, edges and detail free, flatness; more like a slice of tab than a tab in itself.
Slimmer than its couterpart, the Xperia Z and the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Xperia Tablet Z is 26 per cent thinner than the iPad, and more than 150g lighter. Its also been awarded an IP57 (Ingress Protection) which means it can be submerged in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes. We didn’t exactly go diving with the tablet, but we did find it perfect for a Netflix bubble bath and a seaside Spotify session.
Having tested it underwater, we can attest to the fact it works once dry. It isn’t perfect when wet though; the touch screen for example is pretty unusable and the speakers slightly muffled – that said, it fairs far better than any other supermodel slate on the scene.
The 10.1-inch, Full HD display uses LCD tech and is powered by Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine 2.
It’s a very good panel thanks to its pin sharp picture. Pixel density sits pretty at 224 pixels per inch so text looks great. Viewing angles are also impressive, much better than the Xperia Z, though the screen falls behind the Google Nexus 10 and Apple iPad thanks to slightly washed out colours when under a bright light.
Sony Xperia Tablet Z review: Operating system and performance
With Google Android 4.1 on board the Xperia Tablet Z, you’ll have access to plenty of apps and widgets, as well as Sony’s custom Xperia user interface.
Everything’s been redrawn to look great on the 1080p display and with Sony’s UI comes a multitude of themes to change the look and feel of your home and lock screens.
Pre-installed apps of note include the Sony TV remote control app, which, when coupled with the IR blaster on the top side, transforms the fine looking slate into a fantastic TV buddy.
DualShock support also means the Xperia Tablet Z supports your PS3 controller. Couple this with the bounty of Android games and PS One titles available to give it a gaming edge over most of the Android tablet competition.
With 3D games and HD movies being handled very well and benchmarks pitting the Xperia Tablet Z at the top end of the tablet leaderboard, it’s strange that Sony’s interface stutters every now and then.
This UI stagger is down to Sony’s pre-loaded widgets. Remove these and stutter is fixed completely. While from a user-experience point of view this is a let-down therefore, it isn’t an unsurmountable problem.
Sony Xperia Tablet Z review: Camera
With its 8-megapixel Sony Exmor RS sensor, unsurprisingly, shots look good in daylight. Intelligent automatic mode makes all the decisions for you and there’s a speedy burst mode as well as a host of creative shooting modes.
Sadly, the lack of flash and poor low-light performance mean the Sony Xperia Z can’t cut it as an indoor or low-light camera.
Video is shot in full HD and delivers the same results – good in good light, not so great in poor light. You’ll see from the sample that there’s more of a jelly effect than seen on most smartphones or tablets, though the results are still decent.
Sony Xperia Tablet Z review: Multimedia and storage
With Google Play Movies and Sony’s fantastic on board video player, the Xperia Tablet Z finds another forte in movie playback. The 16:9 display is perfectly formatted for film, the movie player pulls information about your movie files from the web and the MHL connectivity means you can plug it into a bigger panel.
The same enjoyment factor can be paired with eBooks and magazines, as well as photographs. All in all, a gorgeous tablet to look at.
With both 16 or 32GB versions available, this supermodel packs plenty of room for your apps, and with microSD expandability your files will be well served too.
Thanks to Android’s memory handling, many games will have to be stored on internal memory and with some being over 1.5GB, we’d recommend gamers opt for the 32GB model. For most though, 16GB will be ample.
Sony Xperia Tablet Z review: Connections and battery
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is the best connected tablet on the scene. Available in both LTE and Wi-Fi versions, you can expect Bluetooth, NFC, an IR blaster and a GPS as standard.
The microUSB port also packs MHL connectivity as well as supporting data and charging.
While paling in comparison to the iPad’s whopping 11,666 mAh battery, the 6000mAhs inside the Sony Xperia Tablet Z will last up to two days with light to moderate use. This is just about respectable considering how thin it is but even trails behind most of the Android competition.
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is va va voom.
It looks stunning, sits in the hand like no other and most importantly, does the job. At £399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version, it may cost the same as an iPad, but its expandability, lightness and water resistance give it an edge.
While the UI doesn’t pack the polish of Apple’s offering and Android and iOS still aren’t on an even keel in terms of app support, the gap is closing and the Xperia Tablet Z is testament to that fact.
Is it the best Android tablet on the market? Definitely. Is it better than the iPad? In many ways, yes.