After receiving rave reviews for last year’s model, the Xperia Tablet Z, Sony has refreshed its flagship with a sleek waterproof design that’s just a hair thinner than the last.
It’s even just slightly thinner and lighter than the iPad Air.
Packed with a high-resolution screen and great battery life, the Z2 Tablet is among the best Android tablets you can buy today, although it doesn’t feel quite as premium as the iPad.
The tablet starts at $US499.99 for the 16 GB model. You can pre-order it now, and it will hit store shelves on May 4.
We had the chance to play with the Xperia Z2 Tablet for a week, and here are the first impressions we came away with.
Sony’s flagship tablet looks much like the company’s line of Xperia smartphones. Measuring 10.4 x 6.7 x 0.25 inches and weighing less than a pound (0.95 lbs), it’s the only tablet of its size that’s thinner and lighter than the iPad Air.
After carrying the Xperia Z2 Tablet around in my purse for several days, I can attest to how light it feels. It’s also much easier to hold in one hand than many of the other 10-inch tablets I’ve used, but that doesn’t mean its design is perfect.
While I appreciate how light and slim Sony has kept its tablet, there are a few design nuances that I didn’t care for. The hard matte glass-fibre reinforced casing that Sony uses for the slate’s rear shell looks attractive at first, but it didn’t take long to get smudged up with fingerprints.
It also doesn’t feel as smooth or premium as the iPad Air, which features an all-aluminium body. But the design is still attractive overall, and those seeking a sleek Android tablet won’t be disappointed.
Sony is offering the tablet in both 16 GB ($499) and 32 GB ($599) configurations, and the 16 GB version will be available in black and white. The higher-end model is only available in black.
Sony has packed its tablet with premium components on the inside, meaning it should be able to handle most computing tasks you throw at it. It runs on a 2.3-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, which is one of the company’s newest chips and features an 8-megapixel main camera. There’s also 3GB of RAM on the inside and a full HD 1080p 10.1-inch display.
Sony’s tablet runs on a a skinned version of Android that puts some of the company’s own apps at the forefront. The home screen is fairly basic, and you’ll find shortcuts along the bottom to Sony’s Movies and Walkman apps and the Google Play store among other icons.
Sony has loaded the tablet with some noteworthy perks, such as six free movies, which include “Captain Phillips” and “American Hustle” and eight free PlayStation Mobile titles.
It’s clear that Sony is pushing the Xperia Z2 as a device for multimedia consumption. In addition to bundling free movies and pushing its own music and movie apps, the company has made improvements to the display and audio components. The Xperia Z2 Tablet comes with Sony’s Triluminous 1080p display, which the company says should increase colour gamut.
This means the Xperia Z2 Tablet should be able to offer extremely accurate colour reproduction. Sony also moved the speaker placement from the rim of the tablet to avoid accidentally blocking sound as you hold it.
Images and video looked sharp and colourful on the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s display. When watching a trailer for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” I noticed the vibrant reds in Spider-Man’s suit really popped the most. When tilting the tablet from side to side, the display remained bright enough to comfortably view the trailer from multiple angles.
For a tablet of its size, the Xperia Tablet Z pumps out boisterous audio, but it’s not always very clear. Dialogue within the trailer sounded crisp and clean, but as soon as the music picked up the speakers became easily overwhelmed and sounded a bit muffled.
The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet’s 6,000 mAh battery lasted for a long time on a single charge. After several days of mixed usage, which included browsing the Web through Chrome, streaming HD video clips, and playing casual games, the battery had dropped down to about 30 per cent.
Other than Sony’s media apps, the tablet comes with your standard selection of stock Android apps, such as Google+, YouTube, Gmail and other Google services. There’s also an infrared blaster on the tablet, meaning you can use it as a remote control for TVs, DVD players, and other home appliances. Using the Remote Control app, it only took a few seconds to program the tablet with my Toshiba TV.
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is IP55/58 certified, meaning it’s dust proof and can handle getting wet without breaking down. You can’t use components such as the camera or the display while the tablet is submerged, however, like you can with devices like the Xperia Z1s smartphone.
The IP55/58 certification means that the tablet can endure submersion up to about five feet for 30 minutes and can be sprayed with low-pressure jets of water from all directions as long as the ports are firmly sealed.
To test this, I stuck my tablet in the shower with its ports covered. Sure enough, the tablet worked just fine even while the screen was still wet. The tablet operated just like it normally would without any noticeable lag.
Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet has all the necessary ingredients to make it a worthwhile purchase for tablet shoppers. It’s screen is super sharp, it’s the thinnest and lightest 10-inch tablet on the market and it’s got great battery life. If you’re the type of person who truly plans on taking your tablet everywhere you go, this could be the best choice. It’s waterproof and dustproof capabilities combined with its super light design make it one of the most portable tablets I’ve ever used.
That being said, its design and build quality doesn’t match that of the iPad Air. Sure, it’s thinner and lighter than Apple’s tablet, but it doesn’t have the same premium aluminium feel you’d get with an iPad. Although its IP55/58 certified, it somehow doesn’t feel nearly as sturdy as Apple’s flagship tablet.
Overall, the Xperia Z2 Tablet is a great choice for those in the market for a premium Android tablet, especially since there isn’t much choice in the 10-inch tablet department for Android fans.