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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Combine all the best bits of the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet that we've discussed so far - the rich Live Colour 10-inch display, the front-facing stereo speakers, the top-notch Snapdragon 801 CPU (backed by ample RAM), and a light and grippy body that's kind to your wrists, and you have one fine media player.

You also get Sony's customary media-focused apps, which are a lot stronger than most home-brewed efforts from other manufacturers. But you'd expect that, given that Sony has its fingers in a number of media pies.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

The main default widget on the homescreen as you boot the Xperia Z2 Tablet up is for Sony's What's New app. This is a constantly updating curated list of albums, apps, and games drawn from Sony Music Unlimited and the Google Play Store respectively.

What's new

Music Unlimited, which is accessible through Sony's Walkman-branded music app, is Sony's own music-on-demand subscription service. It's got a decent library of some 15 million tracks on offer, which makes it competitive with the likes of Spotify and Google Play Music in terms of sheer range.

Of course, the Music Unlimited service is nowhere near as popular as Spotify, but dedicated PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 owners may already be signed up. For such ones, signing in to the Music Unlimited service here grants plenty of free music.

Walkmann App

For others, Sony includes the Google Play Music app, which offers a similar range of music on a monthly subscription.

Of course, Google Play Music also lets you upload your existing music collection to the cloud and stream it back, as well as to purchase MP3 tracks outright, so it's probably preferable for new users.

There's also a Video Unlimited store that works more like a traditional rental service for movies and TV programs. Here you can buy or rent titles for the kind of prices you'll have become familiar with in other services. New films tend to be around $18-$20 to purchase and $5.99 to rent (both in SD).

Video Unlimited

Again, though, Google's Play Movies & TV offering is also provided, and is probably preferable all round for its widespread compatibility, more intuitive UI, and slightly cheaper prices (new titles seem to be around $20 to buy).

On the other hand, any videos you've purchased for your PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 will be available to you here, which is a positive for those who have already invested heavily in Sony's movie ecosystem.

Video playback itself is strong, with that Live Colour display really bringing a sense of vibrancy to proceedings. Having said that, films and individual scenes that are heavy on the reds can seem almost garish thanks to the technology's deep love of rouge.

Sony has given the Xperia Z2 Tablet its customary half-hearted gaming push. The Z2 tablet is PlayStation Certified, which means that, as well as all the games available through the Google Play Store, you can get a bunch of titles through the PlayStation Mobile Store.


That is, you could if the PlayStation Mobile app was preinstalled on the tablet. Instead, you have to go and search for it on the PlayStation website and install it as an unapproved application.

That's because Sony looks to have altered its approach to tablet and smartphone gaming.

It seems to me that it no longer sees its tablets and phones as devices to play traditional PlayStation games on (as evidenced by the amount of shoddy amateurish apps and games in the Featured and Latest sections of the PlayStation Mobile app), but rather as second-screen accompaniments to its PS4 console.

Still, if that's the case, then it should do more than offer the half-hearted PlayStation app that's bundled here.

It's a hastily cobbled-together app that provides access to your PSN account and the PSN Store, where you can browse and purchase games for your PlayStation console.

However, the latter is just a link to the store in Chrome rather than a dedicated app with its own UI. Poor effort, Sony.

PSN Store

These barely-half-measures continue with the so-called PS3 pad support, which only works if you've got a microUSB-to-USB cable (or the appropriate adaptor for your bundled PS3 cable) for the initial set-up. There might be a simple technical reason why you can't just pair these two Sony devices over Bluetooth. I'm not sure. All I know is I that was unable to test this enticing feature for want of a piece of plastic that I would otherwise have no use for.

And Sony doesn't even sell the lead itself.

Fortunately, the Google Play Store is a far more gamer-friendly place than it used to be, with hundreds of high quality apps covering all of the mobile gaming genres. They all play wonderfully well on the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet, too.

The Walking Dead

Real Racing 3 and The Walking Dead, two rich 3D console-standard games, ran superbly smoothly.

That Snapdragon 801 CPU is a capable performer, while the relative lack of pixels being pushed around places less of a strain on the Adreno 330 GPU than in those sharper tablets we mentioned earlier.

In terms of actually playing the games, I found that the extra-wide side bezels rendered games with virtual controls a little trickier to play than on most other tablets.

I had to stretch my thumbs a little further to reach the virtual joysticks on games such as Blitz Brigade and Quadropus Rampage. It was manageable, but then not everyone has long digits.


Of course, any media player needs ample storage, and my test model came with 32GB of internal capacity. In real terms, once the OS and assorted background gubbins are taken into consideration, that results in a little over 25GB of usable space.

Don't forget, though, that there's a microSD slot that enables you to increase that storage by up to 64GB. Always a welcome feature.