Sony Xperia Tablet Z review: first look


After unveiling its flagship smartphone at CES earlier in the year, Sony is using MWC as the platform to promote a new Android tablet — the Sony Xperia Tablet Z — and it’s not only a name that this new product shares with its smartphone sibling.

We’ve just been down to the Sony stand here in Barcelona, and were struck by how similar the styling is between the two devices. Just like the phone, the Xperia Tablet Z is completely flat on the front and back, and just like the phone it’s very, very slim. At a mere 6.9mm, the Tablet Z makes the iPad 4 look positively porky. It’s even slimmer than an iPhone 5.

It’s also a very light tablet, something we noticed as soon as we picked it up from its perspex plinth at the stand. Sony’s specification sheet says it’s 495g, a full 157g lighter than the Wi-Fi iPad; we’re surprised, as it feels even lighter than that. And in a further similarity to the Xperia Z smartphone, the Xperia Tablet Z is water resistant and dust proof. If you’re the type who tends to abuse rather than baby your tech, this could be the tablet for you.


Carrying on the premium feel is the display, with its resolution reaching  a crisp 1,920 x 1,200, giving a pixel density of 224ppi. The colours look good on initial inspection, although the intense white lights at the Sony stand made it difficult to judge brightness with any degree of accuracy.

Inside, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor running at 1.5GHz, backed up by 2GB of RAM, which should be enough to make Android fly along, however we weren’t initially impressed with its responsiveness. Even during the relatively simple task of switching from the home screen to the app drawer we saw the animations judder slightly, and there was a little lag in its response to panning, zooming and scrolling gestures in the browser.

Sure enough, when we hooked up the tablet to the stand’s Wi-Fi connection and ran the SunSpider benchmark, it returned a distinctly mediocre result of 1,889ms. The longer we used the tablet, though, the more it seemed to settle down, so we wouldn’t say it was a serious problem.

The rest of the specifications pass muster. The Xperia Tablet Z has an 8-megapixel camera at the rear and a 2-megapixel unit on the front. It has 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4 and NFC for wireless connectivity. It runs Android Jelly Bean 4.1, plus there’s an infrared emitter on the top edge so you can use it as a giant universal remote control for your TV and other home entertainment equipment. Sony has promised there will be a 4G version for those who can’t to without an always-on internet connection.

Despite initial reservations over responsiveness, our overall impression of the Sony Xperia Tablet Z is a positive one. It’s very slim and light, the screen is crisp and looks great, and we like the fact that it’s disaster proof. However, with a price for the Wi-Fi version that’s £80 more than the Nexus 10, which has a higher resolution display, we think Sony may have a difficult time parting customers from their cash.

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