As far as tablets go, the market is fairly crowded at this point with manufacturers trying to out-do each other around every bend, curve and angle.
Specific features aside, all tablets are pretty much the same – a flat piece of electronic bread, buttered on both sides with a shiny casing and crammed with a tasty filling of wires, chips and components.
Just like humans have to eat to stay alive, tablets are consumed in pretty much the same way – out of a person’s (perceived) necessity to have one.
There is no doubt that tablets have really taken the electronics market by storm over the last couple of years, so manufacturers are trying to make their offering as tasty as possible – but sometimes design aspects and functionality is served up on second-rate plates. Is the Xperia Z tablet fit for a king, or merely a midnight snack?
What we like about it
The first thing that users will notice is the weight – it tips the scale at only 495 g. That is more than a 100g lighter than the iPad with Retina Display. From there users are bound to pick it up and twirl it around to investigate where the weight went, which is when they will notice a second feature – it is the thinnest tablet on the market, while still retaining a 10.1 inch, 1200 x 1920 pixels display.
Working off a Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait CPU, Android OS 4.2 and 2 GB RAM, means that users will be able to put the tablet through its paces without worrying too much about burning out a chip or popping a circuit board. In this aspect, it performs beautifully – and that is probably the most sought after aspect for consumers.
Being a Sony product, it also comes with a number of pre-installed Sony apps, such as Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited, PlayMemories Online, PlayStation Market and Xperia Link. While not all of those services are available in South Africa, in theory they do work.
The tablet also comes with an app called Remote Control – which is really exactly what its name suggests. Opening the app, users will be able to select a number of devices such as televisions, home theatre systems and DVD players, and then after a short setup, be able to control them with the tablet’s built-in RF capabilities. But once again, in theory it works. We were not able to tune a number of televisions using the app…
What we do not like about it
That is all fine and well, but there are other things that just don’t sit very well. With a Li-Po 6000 mAh battery, it is almost half as powerful as the iPad with Retina Display, which clocks in with an 11,560 mAh Li-Po offering. The iPad works of a lesser 1.4 GHz dual core Apple Swift, while the Xperia has the Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait – so there is a noticeable difference in battery power.
The screen is not as responsive as it should be. Maybe it is the coating on it, but on many occasions, while flicking through menus, it failed to scroll up and only registers once the user’s finger is lifted off – selecting that option where-ever that occurred.
Being such a thin device, Sony had to physically cram as much as they could into the slim design. That does not always work out for the best. All around the device, the sides house the various ports for connectivity, such the SD card, mobile data card, the charging port, and headphones – all of which are well-hidden.
The volume button, for example, is located on the left-hand side of the screen, nuzzled in between two ridges on either side. The Volume rocker’s highest point is flush with the height of the ridges, resulting in a difficulty in pressing it because the user’s finger will also press the ridges.
The thing about Sony devices is that they cannot be updated Over the Air (OTA). While users might receive a notification on a Wi-Fi network that an Android software update is available, they will only be able to do so by plugging the device into a computer and running specific software.
At the end of the day, a tablet is a tablet and users will have to decide for themselves which one is better suited towards their needs. While it does not have to be a very complicated decision, the choice, which consumers so crave, can actually be to their own detriment – as too many models, manufacturers, options and feature ultimately confuse.
But with that said, the Xperia Z is incredibly light and easy to hold comfortable, works pretty well and is ultra-responsive. The button placement and card slots could have been designed a bit better, but users should get used to it.
The form factor combined with the bundled software and Sony’s custom UI for Android make the Xperia Z an enjoyable tablet to work with – and should check all the boxes for a consumer fresh in the market for a new tablet.
Oh, and yes, it is also water-proof! ideal for those occasions when consumers feel like taking their tablets for a dip!
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor