The tablet market is the current flash point of exciting new tech. Devices have been pouring out of all of the top manufacturers. But for anyone seeking a full-sized alternative to Apple’s world-beating iPad the options have been distinctly limited. Now Sony has stepped up to the plate with the Xperia Tablet Z and it looks like a badly needed home run.
Operation Persuade Wife has begun in earnest. The money has been earmarked. By the time the release date rolls round I’ll be ready to pull the trigger. Everyone has different priorities when they buy electronics, but this tablet ticks all my boxes. Here’s why the Xperia Tablet Z is my next purchase.
It’s got the look
Just feast your eyes on that. It looks like a premium product. That classic glossy piano black finish and Sony’s new signature aluminum power button are stylish and understated. It is incredibly svelte. We’re talking 6.9mm here. That makes the 4th generation iPad at 9.4mm and the Nexus 10 at 8.9mm look like a pair of fatties. When they jump on the scales the difference is even starker. The iPad is 662g, the Nexus 10 is 603g, and the Xperia Tablet Z is just 495g.
That’s a tablet with a 10.1-inch display that you can hold comfortably in one hand. Sony understands how to deliver quality. So many of the other Android tablets on the market in this size category look cheap, it’s refreshing to see something that looks good.
Trust in Sony
Most of us have long memories when it comes to tech. Brand loyalty is earned over years and it spans multiple devices. A bad experience can turn you off a company for life; a good experience can keep you coming back for more. I’ve never had a bad experience with a Sony product. Obviously, many of you have, and Sony’s mobile products have had their fair share of bumps lately, but for me that’s a powerful incentive to buy more Sony devices.
The fact that the Xperia Tablet Z has infrared so it can double up as a remote for my Sony TV and I can easily connect a PS3 controller for gaming, adds weight to the argument. With NFC, you can tap next to a Sony speaker to stream music to it immediately. If you have one of the latest Bravia TVs then you can tap to share photos and video (this will form the starting point for Operation Persuade Wife II).
You might be concerned that the resolution is only 1920×1200 pixels. That’s not as high as the latest iPad and it’s way behind the Nexus 10 which boasts a 2560×1600 pixel display, but keep in mind that Sony understands displays. The Bravia technology and that HDTV know-how make for quality results. Take a look at a Sony TV next to a Samsung and you’ll see the difference. A slightly lower resolution should also help to keep the demands on the battery under control and that could prove important as we’ll see later.
Other people may also balk at the fact it’s not stock Android, but Sony’s interface offers a light touch. It doesn’t subtract any of the great things about Android. It’s a design language I already talk because Sony takes care to use the same user interface (UI) across devices. I’m also invested in the eco-system already so it’s an easier sell. We know there will be a PS4 companion app for Android. With Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai yet to bear fruit there’s a real possibility of an exciting mobile gaming development here and the Xperia Tablet Z could prove to be the device that ties it all together.
Specs and features
There are a handful of other compelling reasons to target the Xperia Tablet Z over other large premium tablets. The quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM should make for silky smooth performance. There is a microSD card slot for easy memory expansion and quickly copying over files. There’s an MHL link so you can plug it into a wide range of TVs, Blu-ray players, AV receivers, and other devices.
It also has plastic flaps that can cover the ports, allowing the tablet to be submerged in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Watching movies, surfing the web, and reading is now practical in the bath without that extreme panic moment when you splash the laptop keyboard or your tablet slips and threatens to disappear into the bubbly depths.
The Xperia Tablet Z also has a proper camera. A lot of premium tablets seem to scrimp on the camera, but what’s the point in bothering with a rear-facing camera if you aren’t going to do it properly? Sony has put in a 2-megapixel front-facing camera for Skype and other video calls and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with the same Exmor R image sensor that features in its digital camera range. That will deliver quality photos and HD video.
What’s the catch?
No device is ever perfect. There always has to be at least one cause for concern and with the Xperia Tablet Z it’s definitely the battery. A 6,000mAh battery may have helped keep the device slim and light, but will it deliver enough juice to keep us going throughout the day? To give you a comparison point the iPad 4 has an 11,560mAh battery. A decent dock will be essential and it should solve the problem around the house, but how long will the Z last in the wild?
We’ll just have to wait and see. The Sony staff demonstrating it at MWC showed off something called Stamina Mode, which is obviously designed to squeeze maximum minutes out of that battery, but power-saving always means turning off features or sacrificing top end performance so it’s not ideal.
For a long time Apple has had the premium tablet market sewn up. There’s no doubt that Android tablets cater for all budgets, but what about the premium end of the market? The Nexus 7 is a great device “for the money.” The Nexus 10 is possibly the first credible contender for the iPad 4, but Google’s partnership with Samsung just isn’t doing it for me. The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is the first big Android tablet I’ve seen that immediately sparked my desire.
Are you tempted by the Sony Xperia Tablet Z? Post a comment and tell us why you’ll be buying one or why you won’t. You may also want to check out our Sony Xperia Tablet Z hands-on and a spec comparison with the iPad 4 and Nexus 10.