A week with: The Sony Xperia Tablet Z
'A new experience but not an outstanding one'
Wednesday 10 July 2013
Price: £399 (or £199 on Vodafone mobile broadband price plans plus £28 per month)
Processor: Snapdragon™ S4 Pro quad-core 1.5ghz processor with 2GB RAM
Camera: Back facing – 8.1 MP with 16x digital zoom. Front facing – 2.2 MP
What is it?
According to Sony, it's the world's thinnest 10in tablet. Claims like that rarely ring true for long in the world of tech, but for now it should be enough to pique the attention of shoppers in an ever-crowded market. In fact, Sony has been a bit slow to make an impression with its tablets, having got off to a shaky start a couple of years ago with its less-than-impressive Sony Tablet S.
When it comes to smartphones, however, the brand has been winning over tech fans as well as casual users and it is clearly hoping that its latest tablet will be as much a welcome member of the Xperia family as the impeccable Xperia Z smartphone has been.
Does it work?
Tablets are indulgent pieces of kit: something to curl up with on the sofa or to flip in and out of your bag while commuting. With that in mind, one of the most important features will always be how comfortable it is to use. The Xperia Tablet Z – with its record-breaking waistline – exceeds expectations in this capacity. Weighing in at just 495g, the tablet certainly is lean. You can hold it in one hand with ease, without an aching arm interrupting your evening's entertainment. This also makes it fantastic for gaming.
Visually, the tablet is slick and striking, and Sony has done well to give it a serious look despite the plastic feel – the only downside being the fiddly and annoying toggles that cover the ports. Still, as long as you manage not to snap them off, the tablet is waterproof and can survive half an hour underwater (presumably in the bath) before breaking.
The screen quality is another highlight, with colours coming out rich and delicious, whether browsing photos or watching films – something you would expect from a manufacturer known for making high-end HD TVs. Despite this, the cheaper Nexus 10 does have a slightly better one, as does the equally priced iPad 4. As for the software, the user interface takes a bit of time to get used to and is certainly not as intuitive as iOS.
Still, it's fast and clearly designed to deal with multi-tasking far better than an iPad. The option to bring up a snappy sidebar of the apps you have open is a convenient touch.
Is it worth it?
At £399, Sony has probably slightly overstated itself. The tablet is one of the top-end Android models available, but at that price you'd expect it to match up better spec-wise with the iPad 4.
That said, the featherweight dimensions make it a pleasure to use. If you are an Android fan already, or have enjoyed Sony's Xperia phones in the past and aren't interested in jumping ship to Apple, this tablet is unlikely to disappoint. All in all, it's a good Xperia.
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