This is the very first time we have been able to review a Sony device, and hopefully it is just the first of many. We are very proud to have started of with one of the best tablets in the markets at this point in time.
Although we had the Xperia Tablet Z for a short period of time we hope that we are able to tell you how good we really thought it was.
Design and Ergonomics
Let us start off by saying that the Tablet Z is without a doubt one of the best looking device I ever had for testing. You will be mesmerised the first time you open the box and see the Z.
The first thing you will notice is the thickness of the device and the feel of the back. This is one of the thinnest tablets we had for reviewing with its thickness standing at just 6.9mm. Next on the line you have the amazing 10.1 inch TFT 1920×1200 pixel screen which will blow you away the first time you torn on the Xperia Tablet Z and the start up graphics pop up and you automatically assume you will have a great time viewing media content on it.
The Xperia Tablet Z design is all in all similar to the lines of its smartphone counterpart and this definitely gives it more points to those that love the outdoors and appreciate having a device without having to worry about water splashes or dust, given that the Xperia Tablet Z has a IP57 certification.
Another thing you will notice without even taking the Xperia Z out of the box is its weight. The box is very light and this is mainly due to the 500g of the Xperia Tablet Z, which is definitely another point in favor of the Sony as this puts it at about 100g lighter than any other 10.1-inch tablet available on the market at this point in time.
The back of the Xperia Tablet Z is not made of glass as one would expect but instead it has a plastic soft matte finish which gives great grip, doesn’t hold on to smudge marks or greasy fingerprints and makes it much more comfortable to hold with just one hand.
All the slots of the Xperia are sealed with plastic flaps, in order to keep it water and dust resistant, and that might prove to be a hindrance some times.
It is great that Sony kept everything easy for their customers and nothing is needed to open the SIM card/SD card slot and you only need a simple microUSB cable in order to charge the Z.
As far as sides go you have the microUSB slot, SIM and micro SD card slots on the bottom of the tablet. On the left you will find the 3.5mm phone jack the power/lock button and the volume rocker. On the bottom of the left side you also have two exposed pogo pins that can be used to charge the Xperia with the tablet Z cradle.
The Xperia Tablet Z has 2 speakers in order to provide a better sound experience, two openings are on the bottom of the left and right sides and the other two are on the left and right borders of the bottom side. This way Sony has made sure that no matter how you grab the tablet you will not be able to cover all the speakers, and just in case you do they are powerful enough to make the sound still heard. On the back you will also find the 8MP camera on the top left.
As said before the Xperia Tablet Z has a 10.1-inch TFT WUXGA resolution screen covered by a shatterproof glass. This device has what Sony calls OptiContrast, which means the touch sensor is integrated into the display and there’s no air gap between the latter and the glass reducing the glare of bright sunlight and makes the whole assembly thinner.
When it comes to image quality we can count on Sony’s BRAVIA Engine Z to make everything look sharper, even though with 224ppi it is pretty sharp to begin with.
It has good contrast and good brightness although the latter could have been a little bigger. Be aware that the screen still reflects a lot when you are outdoors and visibility is affected.
Performance and Software
When the Xperia Tablet Z arrived at my hands it had Android 4.1.2 with a custom Sony UI.
There’s nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the Sony UI overlay. You have a regular lockscreen with two options for unlocking, one goes directly to the camera app and the other to the homescreen.
On the homescreen you will notice two buttons between the regular three Android buttons and the clock. The first of those brings up a list of small applications, like calculator, notes, recorder, etc, that can be opened in a floating window thus giving the user the illusion of multi-window. An illusion as you can’t use two of them side by side although you can bring one of them up while checking info on the browser in the back, for example.
On the top of the homescreen you have a bar that has the Google text and voice search and where you can add more shortcuts for applications you use frequently and want them to appear regardless of what homescreen you are on.
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z never lagged or froze up while navigating through menus or options and it was very fluid performing every task requested of it.
Sony did a great thing with the keyboard, it offers the user 2 options, either the regular Android keyboard pinned to the bottom of the screen or a floating keyboard that you can drag around the screen and put it wherever it favors the task your performing. This was a first for me, as this was the first device I handled that had this kind of keyboard choices, and it seemed very useful and logical to use it any way I needed it according to what I was doing at the time.
There are not many preinstalled applications on the Xperia Tablet Z and those that are installed are of some use to the customer. You have the Sony gallery with many options to view and edit your photos and create albums that you can then share between your devices through PlayMemories.
As Sony is Sony, of course you would expect a Walkman music player app with a simple interface and loads of options to keep you entertained. The Walkman app has a great equalizer you can use along with the sound settings to make everything sound great.
There’s a bit let down in the Xperia Z for me, and that is that you don’t get any document editor pre-installed, all you have is office suite visualizer which isn’t of much help if you are in a rush and need to edit a word or excel quickly and only have your tablet with you.
I couldn’t get enough of the Xperia Tablet Z fluidness whether simply navigating between screens or playing games like FIFA, Real Racing and Dead Trigger. Since I didn’t notice any lagging whatsoever while playing I was really excited about what the benchmark results would be, and they did not disappoint. Bear in mind that the benchmarks were tan twice, once before updating to 4.2 and again after the update, so the results may surprise you.
First lets look at the 3D Mark benchmarks. Before the update the Xperia scored 10168 on the regular IceStorm test and after the update it managed to Max Out the test.
We noticed a visible increase in all 3D Mark benchmark results after the update to 4.2 but the same can’t be said about AnTuTu or Quadrant Standard’s results. NenaMark 2 scores were exactly the same.
Connectivity and Battery Life
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z we had for test was the LTE enabled version, so that’s a connectivity option right out of the bat. The device also has WiFi a/b/g/n up to 150Mbps, 3G, 4G and Bluetooth 4.0.
There’s also a GPS receiver with GLONASS support and NFC capability. You also have an infrared port on the top of the tablet that will allow you to use it as a remote control, as you will be able to see in the video review.
Although we tested the Xperia Z remote capabilities with a Samsung TV I must say tat it behaved astonishingly well, better than the S IV remote and I might even say, better than my own TV remote at times.
When it comes to battery life we were expecting a bigger battery on the Xperia Tablet Z but even then I have to say it behaved quite well. It took a long time to charge up as I kept messing about with it making it charge slower and even not charge at all sometimes.
After fully charged I played all our regular games, plus FIFA 2014 to check out what it was capable of and the battery didn’t drain anywhere as quickly as I thought it would. With regular use for checking email and browsing the web it would hold up to almost 8 hours of use, but this is just a guess as we didn’t have enough time with it to do a proper battery test.
The Xperia Tablet Z has two built in cameras, the rear 8MP camera and the frontal 2MP camera. The rear camera has a maximum resolution of 3248×2432 and is capable of recording Full HD videos.
The camera interface has loads of options available to the user like white balance, ISO, metering and exposure compensation. Of course there are more options like setting the auto focus and picking between color effects and such. If you don’t care about these little things and only care about taking pictures, you only have to enable Superior Auto and this will choose the best settings according to the picture you are taking.
It takes good pictures, probably better than one would need, since this is a tablet after all.
The same can be said about video recording as there’s enough details captured and not much noise, be aware though that colours might not always be accurate enough and contrast might not always be the best.
Indoor Video Sample:
Indoor Video Sample Low Light:
Video Review Part 1:
Video Review Part 2:
- Just about everything
- Battery capacity.
- No updating without connecting to computer.
- No preinstalled office document editor.
Sony nailed this one, and that’s about it. I liked almost everything about this device, the design, the interface, the preinstalled apps, the connectivity options, and beyond.
There were a few drawbacks, like not being able to update the OS without connecting the Xperia to the computer, not having a preinstalled document editor and the small battery.
If you compare the Xperia with the Nexus 10 you will notice that the first has a bigger battery, better screen resolution and of course it will be receiving updates much quicker than the latter. That being said it is not water resistant and it definitely does not have the great look and feel of the Xperia.
After all is said and done the Xperia Tablet Z stays at the top of our best Android tablets currently available on the market, and given its only downside is the battery capacity it will probably stay on the top of that list for a long time.
Review by: Cátia Sofia @ Android Emotions