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Apps and games
Android almost begs you to dive into the Google Play store and start downloading - but remember, apps will be saved to the internal memory, rather than your memory card, so keep an eye on HD games and so on or you'll fill it up rather quickly if you elect for the 16GB model.
Google Play is so well stocked, it's untrue. It'll always be jostling with Apple's App Store, but the fact of the matter is that anything you find on iOS's offering, you're likely to find on Google's too. If it's not the same app, then it'll be an equivalent. Or several. And it's growing every day.
Once you set yourself up with a Google account, away you go. Although there's not as many tablet-optimised apps for the Android platform, preferring to just scale up the phone versions.
On top of this, Sony also provides access to its PlayStation Mobile Network, which means you can sign in and download games. But they're kept within the PSM app. So we downloaded Lemmings (big YAY for the old school) but then found we couldn't put a shortcut on the home screen because we had to go through the PSM app to load it.
It's not a major inconvenience, but it has a sniff of control to it in the same way we're used to with Apple and its modus operandi. Android users like to be in the driving seat, which is why many use the platform, so this didn't sit too well with us. But it's a minor quibble.
You can also sideload apps from other app stores if you choose to download them. Bear in mind that Google warns you about installing apk files from others because it can't police where they've come from. Traditionally, this is where you're likely to find some nasties lurking, but if they're from reputable app vendors (such as Amazon, for example), you should be OK.
We installed the Amazon app store out of curiosity and immediately bagged the Catch Phrase app. Small things really do amuse small minds. By the way, if you're thinking of doing the same, it's really hard compared to the old TV show.
Considering the Sony Xperia Tablet Z has a smaller 6,000mAh battery, we weren't holding out much hope for it. But we were pleasantly surprised in general use.
The first palpitation came when we unplugged the unit and noticed it went down from 100% to 99% in less than two minutes without being used. But after that, it stabilised well.
With the screen on auto brightness, we watched three 30-minute episodes of The Inbetweeners, browsed the web for about 30 minutes, streamed four songs and one four minute video to our TV and played a little bit of Solitaire for 10 minutes or so.
After all that activity, the battery was down to 70%. When the screen is on playing video, the battery loses juice slowly. When the screen is on for browsing, it seems to eat through battery life quicker.
In standby, the battery went down about 2% an hour when not in use, but the Sony Xperia Tablet Z has one great trick up its sleeve - Stamina Mode. We first saw this on the Xperia Z phone, but it really comes into its own on the Tablet Z.
Stamina Mode works similarly to the third party Juice Defender, where it disables the Wi-Fi and 3G radios when the screen is off, then turns them back on immediately when you turn the screen on again. You can select various apps to 'whitelist' and that then enables them to carry on carte blanche.
It's not ideal on a smartphone because you'll then have to whitelist loads of apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which kind of renders it useless, but you can get away with not whitelisting anything on a tablet and find the experience isn't diluted too much.
In fact, we enabled Stamina Mode, put the Sony Xperia Tablet Z in a bag and forgot about it. When we took the tablet out eight hours later, it was only down from 100% to 98%, which is a phenomenal result.
We imagine fitting a larger battery would have eaten into the size and weight plus points, but it's not going to last as long as some of the competition - for instance, the iPad will outdo it on battery life, as well as myriad other devices. It's a mid-range competitor that you'll probably want to charge every day or two, and there are some tablets out there which can boast better performance than that.
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