Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review

An evolutionary change doesn't stop this being a remarkable tablet

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review
It's thinner, lighter and better - but is it worth the money?

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More colours, fewer pixels

Arguably the main point of discussion with the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet is its display, because it's simultaneously one of the device's biggest strengths and its biggest weakness.

Sony's taken a unique approach with the 10.1-inch screen here, relying on custom technology over the simple pixel pushing prowess of most rival efforts. The results are mixed.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

A high-res, proprietary screen

On the plus side, the Xperia Z2 Tablet's display is one of the most vibrant and rich of any tablet I've used, and it produces significantly deeper colours than standard LCD efforts, whilst avoiding much of the over saturation of many AMOLED panels. Sony calls this technology Live Colour LED, which basically involves adding red and green elements to each light emitting diode.

Live Colour first impressed the TechRadar team in the form of the Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone, but this represents the first time the technology has been realised in a tablet format.

And it really is noticeable in real world usage, chiefly when it comes to the rendering of reds. I guarantee you'll never have seen Netflix red displayed in quite such a deep hue as it is here. Meanwhile, the red sections of text in Plants vs Zombies 2 stand out to an almost distracting degree.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review

Other colours are also richly displayed - provided you deactivate the Z2 Tablet's auto brightness setting and crank it up to max. The mid-level brightness setting seems to be completely inadequate, at least to my eyes.

But that's not the biggest issue here. That comes from something far more fundamental.

The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet's display simply isn't sharp enough. Not for a brand new high-end tablet, at least.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review

Its 1920 x 1200 display sports the same number of pixels as last year's Sony Xperia Tablet Z. Even then the Sony Xperia Tablet Z wasn't the sharpest Android tablet on the market, with the Nexus 10 sporting a 2560 x 1600 display.

Now, as the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet hits the market, that kind of sharpness has become the norm for a high end 10-inch tablet. This makes Sony's decision to stick with the same resolution for this year's model a little tough to swallow, with a 224PPI compared to 264PPI on the iPad Air.

Don't get me wrong, the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet's display remains attractive and decent to use for general tasks. But boot up a web page, book or app with small text and you'll notice the difference in sharpness. Even a two-year-old iPad 3 shows it up for detail.


Sony's Live Colour LED technology has the potential to join its Mobile Bravia Engine algorithms as genuinely meaningful innovations in the tablet display field.

But I feel that it needs to match the sharpness of its rivals before we're really able to judge how much of an impact it can have on the full-sized tablet space.

Still, the deep colours of the Xperia Z2 Tablet make it a fine tablet for watching movies and videos on - as does another of its special features, with Sony including a pair of front-facing stereo speakers.

They're not massively loud, and they certainly lack much in the way of bass, but they're clear enough. Beyond that, their positioning at either end of an already very wide tablet makes for better-than-usual sound separation.

What's more, thanks to the way they channel sound out of the front of the tablet, you won't find yourself covering them with your hands.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

Yeah, it's in a well. What of it?

Another unique feature of the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet is its IP55/IP58 rating. This means that the tablet is, for all intents and purposes, waterproof and dust resistant. That's where those aforementioned port covers come in.

It means that you could take the Xperia Z2 Tablet for a dip in a pool for up to 30 minutes, down to a depth of 1.5 metres. You could even take some underwater pictures while you're down there (as if the prospect of taking photos with a 10-inch tablet wasn't ridiculous enough).

Is this feature actually of any practical use? If you fancy a spot of web browsing or ebook reading in the bath, yes. Meanwhile, the Z2 Tablet's extra protection against dust ingress will come in handy for those who like to chuck their tablet into a general use bag when they go out.