Sony Xperia Tablet Z review

The lightest, slimmest and water-resistant-est tablet on the market

Sony Xperia Tablet Z review
Best in Class
A stunning tablet that pushes Android to the top of the pile

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Surfing the web is likely to be what you'll use the Sony Xperia Tablet Z for most often.

We've played with a few tablets in the last month and we found the iPad mini comfortable to hold but the resolution didn't live up to our (maybe far too high) standards, whereas the iPad 4 corrected the display issue, but brought about early arthritis from holding it.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 was a nice compromise in terms of weight and screen size, but again, the resolution of text on websites just left a yukky taste in the mouth. The Nexus 7 managed to offset that, but despite its portability, the screen felt a little small at times, with constant zooming in on sites.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z review

Honestly, you'd think we were hard to please.

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is the first tablet we've used that makes web browsing a real pleasure, ticking all of the above boxes. Almost.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z review

You see, it excels in some ways. It's light to hold, the screen is razor sharp and it's ultra-portable. But it falls down on the basic principle of web browsing. Loading pages is not particularly fun.

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is an Android device, and therefore ships with Google's own browser, Chrome. It's now out of Beta and has replaced the stock Android browser we used to get as standard. And while we've praised Chrome on lots of other devices for being super snappy and able to sync bookmarks easily and so on, here on the Sony Xperia Tablet Z it sucks.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z review

It's not that it can't load web pages properly or that things don't look right. Our issue was that it's too sluggish. We'd try to swipe up and notice we couldn't because a page was still loading, where other browsers would still enable us to pan around in the interim. And this happened on loads of websites. We found it slowed us down, and that is not something we're fans of.

However, it's not all gloom here. We downloaded several other browsers (the UC Browser HD offering was our favourite) and it went from being something that made us sigh to something that lit up our faces. This is nothing to do with the processor, but is solely a software-related issue, so replacing the browser fixed it immediately.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z review

Likewise, we expect a future Chrome update to make this problem go away. As such, we wouldn't discourage you from buying the Sony Xperia Tablet Z for this reason alone.

One other omission is flash. Regular readers will know we bring this up on most reviews. Yes, we know Google has dropped it and Adobe no longer supports it on Android and yes, we know the world is moving on.

But when you do a lot of browsing, which you will on a tablet, you'll inevitably land on a huge number of websites that still require it. Even the BBC tells you that it's needed on certain pages to this very day.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z review

All is not lost, because you can still load Flash onto your tablet manually (via sideloading - Google is your friend here) but it's another job, and while not particularly complex, if you're not too tech-savvy you may get confused.

When pages do load, they look great zoomed out or in. Tap to zoom works brilliantly, although we couldn't find a way to get text reflow to kick in. Loading times vary, depending on your browser.

We loaded TechRadar (which is content heavy on the desktop version) and it took a crazy long 13 seconds to load up over a strong, corporate Wi-Fi connection. Normally, we'd be able to start zipping about after a second or two, but remember that problem we just mentioned with Chrome? So we had to wait the full 13 seconds. Not fun. At all.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z review

But then we tried the same test with UC HD and the entire site loaded in just under six seconds. We were panning around after three. If this isn't encouragement for Google to sort Chrome out, we don't know what is.

Unfortunately, there is one strength Google has that other browsers don't, and that's the ability to sync your bookmarks and web usage across other devices on Chrome.

If you have loads, you'll find it a right chore adding them one by one to a new browser. Which means that you save hair loss by gaining speed when loading pages, then lose the same amount of hair having to waste time messing around with adding bookmarks. Boo hiss.