Sony Xperia Tablet Z Review: A bold attempt to change the game

Sony Xperia Tablet Z

This was my first Tablet, I was very hesitant about the tablet market because of the speed this technology was moving at. I was fearful of being left behind within a couple months...just another one of "those tablets" that popped up during the giant rush to sell slates. Sony’s first 2 tablets weren’t too significant, at least from what I could see. the Tablet Z, however, definitely has the potential to establish Sony as a more feasible company in not only the tablet market, but also the smartphone scene, which has also been fairly inexistent for them in the U.S. But will the device’s small profile, light-as-a-feather weight, waterproof/dustproof features, and close-to-stock Android offerings be enough to sway consumers to look past that premium price tag? Remember that saying, "you get what you pay for"? I find myself thinking that every day I use this slate, this is definitely not your average tablet.

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Iphone 5(left) and Xperia Tablet Z(right)


A form factor that demands attention

This is one beautiful piece of technology. I have friends will hold the tablet and enjoy the feel then go back to their own tablet and start complaining about the size and weight, even though 6 months ago they were gushing over how light their own machine were. Now keep in mind(and we all have experience with this), average consumers may notice but probably won’t fully appreciate the weight difference between this and, say, a Nexus 10, but that’s not the point. This tablet is just about light enough to feel TOO light, borderline toy light. I mean, for somebody who pays attention to what they’re using, which includes every person who is reading, you will pick this thing up and pause for a second, "Wait a second...is this just a display model?" is the kind of thought that comes to mind. II think they nailed the spot with the weight, you find yourself holding it with one hand for an extended amount of time and find yourself thinking "why is my wrist not hurting", the slab is perfectly balanced, which actually is pretty noticeable when you’re reading a book with one hand. It’s a beautiful feeling that I take for granted because I have never owned a tablet this size, only a Kindle Fire 1st gen(which I believe is heavier than this). The edges are in a little danger of feeling uncomfortable, though, because the corners extrude a bit further than the actual side of the tablet. But the thing is so damn light that it doesn't even matter. And despite all of this it still retains the solid build quality Sony is so great at.

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...this tablet is beautiful on and off. The black bezel matches the screen almost perfectly so that, when not in use, the tablet just looks like a black slate.

The 10.1 1920x1200 LCD screen runs at 224PPI at 1080p. Before I asses these specs let me just say, this tablet is beautiful both on and off. The black bezel matches the screen almost perfectly so that, when not in use, the tablet just looks like a black slate. As for the screen during usage, it's not necessarily the best resolution in the market, but my God does that Bravia Engine 2 does work! The colors are great making this thing great for anybody who goes through as many pictures a day as I do, although blacks and whites could be better(not by much). I was impressed and honestly, I forgot the resolution wasn’t "up to par", because it is significant that this thing can look so great despite the numbers on paper. In fact the lower resolution actually helps the tablet more than it hurts it by improving battery life, well done Sony. Even if you get really picky about the quality, though, a mini HDMI output will give you the ability to stream to your TV, as well as direct streaming to a Sony Bravia tv.

"Wait a second...is this just a display model?" is the kind of thought that comes to mind.

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Convenience is key


"The 600 is so much better!" "The 800 just got here!" It is true, this tablet is running on Qualcomm's quad-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, which some might call the last-gen model. But the way Sony utilizes the power in that chip is amazing, I’d rather have an older model that has been pushed to its max than a new processor running at 75%. Lag is almost nonexistent so far. So far the only lag I've experienced was at initial startup and a few times when I was flipping through home screens. Other than that, and the 1/10 of a second between hitting an app and the app actually opening, everything has been smooth sailing even when gaming, which I was able to easily connect my PS3 controller to do. I will mention that I did load Nova launcher on the third day and haven’t looked back since then, which may keep the tablet running smoother. I was pretty worried about how much time I could push out of the smaller 6000mah battery in this tablet, consider me surprised. With heavy use(I’m constantly on hangouts messaging, checking in on Tumblr and 500px, watching Youtube videos etc) I could get 8-10 hours from a single charge. I know that’s nothing special but I wasn’t expecting that, and it’s nice to not worry about the next time I’ll need to plug her in. I just put it on the dock every night and I’m fine. Average use on Sony’s Stamina Mode will get you a couple of days usage before you need to charge.

I’m sure many think the waterproof rating here is a gimmick, even I did before I bought it. Now, I realize, it is such a useful feature to have, I can be confident practically anywhere I’m using this. I received a video call while I was cooking and had no problem answering it and keeping the tablet in splash distance of the sink. I’ve taken the tablet to the beach and played with it on the sand taking advantage of the dust proof feature. When I get lazy and don’t feel like wiping the screen down I can just wash it off. Some might call these things gimmicky luxuries, but I’m gonna have a hard time going back to a tablet that I can’t do this with.

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The speakers here are better than I expected after reading some reviews, I’ve seen complaints of treble heavy sound coming from the external speakers. And even though i admit it’s a little more tingy sounding than I would like, it’s perfectly reasonable for everyday listening. I thought the placement was odd being in the corners where your hands might normally rest, but then I realized the ingenuity in this setup. Many tablets have either speakers on the bottom corners, or the side corners. Sony decided to grace us with both options. Good news is, we only have 2 hands, so even if I block the two side speakers the bottom two were enough to keep me satisfied. The sound quality through headphones is excellent as I have come to expect from Sony mobile products. Upon initial boot up the default music player is the Walkman player found on all the Xperia devices, however I deferred to Google Play Music and only rarely use the Walkman app. It is a beautiful app, though, I love it and I'll be finding more ways to use it as time goes on. Speaking of music apps, Sony’s lock screen is gorgeous, and functional, with an easy slider to access music no matter what app it is playing from, pretty useful. Along with the double tap to wake feature, that needs to become standard across devices ASAP.

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There's also a pleasant effect wherever there is touch input

The mini applications Sony placed permanently on the home menu dock are actually surprisingly useful. Most of which is the universal remote. But before I get into that let me take a sentence or two to explain these apps. The mini apps are a group of predetermined apps such as a calculator, a browser, a remote, notes, recorder, etc that will hover on top of any other app you have open at the time, which makes multi tasking 10x easier when using Chrome. Now, the universal remote is a godsend for my current situation. In an apartment on my college campus with 3 other young men, things aren't always as clean as they could be. We lost all of the remotes to the sound system, TV, and fan. Luckily the remote app on this tablet is as easy to connect as confirming the type and make of the product I am attempting to connect to. You can also assign custom functions to each button in the app, call me lazy, but this makes my day so much easier, and it only makes things better that I never have to exit an app to use it.

The mini apps are a group of predetermined apps such as a calculator, a browser, a remote, notes, recorder, etc that will hover on top of any other app you have open at the time, which makes multi tasking 10x easier when using Chrome.

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A few closing statements


The camera, being 8 MP, had my expectations high when I bought the Xperia Tablet Z. I gotta say, I am contempt with the camera’s performance, but I am not impressed. It is certainly better than any other tablet camera I’ve used(which, granted, aren’t many), but I was hoping to be blown away. Now, that being said, I don’t really care all that much, sure I’d like a better camera, but honestly I don’t find myself taking very many pictures or videos with my tablet. The front camera is actually more important to me, being the camera which I use for Hangouts and other video chat apps. That rear facing camera may be the only feature of this tablet that I am even marginally disappointed with. Along with Android 4.1 rather than 4.2 at launch, which isn’t a huge deal to me, because the gap between the 2 isn’t so large. The small flaps covering every opening can also become a bit annoying, however it’s an easy price to pay for the durability it provides. The Sony bloatware is here too, not surprising. There are somewhere upward of 8 preloaded Sony apps on the tablet at startup, only about 4 of which I use. It’s not the biggest pain, but it’s a bit of a nuisance. I find myself willing to put up with it for Sony’s android skin which is very minimal.

Sony has a real winner on their hands here, they were able to overcome almost any shortcomings that might be found with this tablet, and I think it may actually be better than I expected. The price is a bit steep, but being priced relative to the Ipad, I don’t think it’s outrageous. And all you need is an SD card for some extra storage room.

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A couple pictures from the tablet's camera

The bottom line with this tablet, or any of Sony Mobile’s products for that matter, is that these are quality devices that certainly deserve consumers’ money. But Sony should take some marketing tips from Samsung and Apple, because people don’t know too much about them, and you can’t buy what you can’t see.

I would give the Sony Xperia Tablet Z a 9.5 out of 10, and go as far as saying it is the best tablet out there. That’s certainly subjective, though, as is this whole review. Thanks for reading.