The Bottom Line
Nov 18 2013 - Sony hasn't had a great track record in tablets because of their experiments at making unique tablets. By moving back to a more traditional design, the Xperia Tablet Z is a good 10-inch Android tablet with some unique features like water resistance, IR blaster and NFC. The problems it that it's pricing puts it on the high end without many of the attributes that make the premium tablets. The charging problems are of particular concern as it takes nearly as long to charge it as the battery life it provides.
- Very Thin and Light
- Useful Infrared Blaster and Remote App
- Water Resistant Design
- Water Resistant Port Covers Get Annoying
- Slow Charging Via MicroUSB Port
- 1.5GHz Qualcomm SnapDragon S4 Pro (Cortex-A9) Quad Core Processor
- 2GB Memory
- 32GB Storage
- 10.1" WUXGA (1920x1200) Multitouch Display
- 2.0 Megapixel Front and 8.0 Megapixel Rear Cameras
- Adreno 320 Graphics
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, NFC, Bluetooth
- MicroUSB 2.0, MicroSD Card Slot, 3.5mm Audio Jack
- 10.47" x 6.77" x .27" @ 1.09 lbs.
- Android 4.2
Review - Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Nov 18 2013 - Sony has produced a number of novel tablets over the years but the Xperia Tablet Z returns to a more traditional form factor with an emphasis on being thin, light and water resistant. In fact, up until the release of the Apple iPad Air, the tablet was the lightest 10-inch tablet at just 1.09 pounds. It still is the thinnest on the market by just a hundredth of an inch over the iPad Air. In terms of design, it is similar to their Xperia lineup of cell phones with a uniform thickness body without the rounded edges and corners typical to many tablet designs. The exterior back is made of a matte plastic while the edges are a glossy plastic. To ensure that the tablet is water resistant, the various ports have a cover to ensure water doesn't get in but they tend to get in the way when you need to connect the tablet.
Powering the Xperia Tablet Z is the Qualcomm SnapDragon S4 Pro that has been featured in several tablets to date. This is a quad core processor based around the Cortex-A9 ARM processor design and features up to 1.5GHz speeds across the cores. It also features 2GB of memory which means that the tablet is very responsive under the Android operating system when switching between applications, loading programs up or just working on it which is a huge improvement over their past tablets.
The display for the Sony Xpreia Tablet Z seems to take a middle ground with a 1920x1200 native resolution that gives it capability for 1080p high definition video and a profile that isn't excessively wide as some others. This puts it behind the iPad Air or the aging Google Nexus 10. The color and viewing angles are quite good on the tablet the brightness on the tablet is a bit below some of the others on the market and often needed to be turned pretty high for an enjoyable experience.
One unique feature to the Sony Xperia Tablet Z is the Sony One Touch. This is in effect an NFC transmitter that allows the device to pair up with select peripherals for wireless data transmission. A good example of this would be tapping the tablet against a compatible set of speakers to automatically transfer the audio playback of music from the tablet to the speakers. While interesting, the feature still has a fairly limited use currently. In contrast, the infrared transmitter along with Remote Control app turn the tablet into a universal remote for TVs, receivers, TV tuners and media boxes.
With its thin profile, Sony was still able to place a 5000mAh battery pack into the Xperia Tablet Z. The company estimates that this should provide up to ten hours of video playback. In digital video playback testing, the tablet was able to run for just under nine hours. This is unfortunately less than Sony had predicted. While it is probably sufficient for the average user who will likely use the tablet through the day and charge it overnight, it still falls short of the iPad Air or Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 that both run around twelve hours in the same test. One big problem here is that the microUSB port and charger are extremely slow at charging the tablet up.
Pricing for the Sony Xperia Tablet Z was originally $600 for the 32GB version but it has dropped to around $550 through many retailers. This puts it on the more expensive end of the tablet market. It is slightly more affordable than the Apple iPad Air but not by much. The iPad Air is smaller and lighter all while providing better performance, higher screen resolution and battery life. This makes the Xperia Tablet Z a hard sell. Other more affordable options that also provide a higher resolution screen include the Google Nexus 10 which is slow by today's tablet standards and much larger or the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch that is also smaller and lighter while having a slightly faster processor and better graphics.