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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There is no doubt here that Sony is coming out fighting with the Xperia Tablet Z, laying down the tablet gauntlet to the Apple iPad 4 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 and other Galaxy tablets.

It may have been biding its time, coming up with more mediocre devices in recent years to establish a footing, but Sony is really pitching a brilliant device here.

There are features on the Sony Xperia Tablet Z that you'll find nowhere else, such as the waterproofing - and even if you never have any intention of watching Columbo in the shower, we always like to see innovation. Being able to connect a PS3 controller to it makes it an ace gaming device too.

Indeed, Sony just needs to make sure there are enough of these things to go around, and early indications are it's not managing too well.

We liked

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is one of the most beautiful tablets we have ever seen, and the fact that it's so light is even better. We can't overstate how far ahead the design of the Xperia Tablet Z is thanks to the weight... so many Android 10-inch tablets have failed simply because we can't hold them for long enough. The corners are a little angular, which can affect your grip, but it's not terrible.

The screen is sharp and vibrant, and Sony has really worked hard at adding to Android without overpowering the operating system - by including things such as helpful lock screen tweaks, themes, small apps, shortcut icons and packaging DLNA up (renaming it 'throwing') to make it user-friendly.

Things like the microSD card slot are really winning as well, and we love the way that Sony has made everything so easy to find on the tablet (after getting acclimatised to the way the user interface works).

We disliked

But while the design is beautiful and there is little weight, you may find it uncomfortable to hold at times due to the square corners.

And this is the biggest fingerprint magnet we have ever seen. Sony also needs to work at dimming the screen brightness, because Auto acts as though it's on steroids. The video player could do with a spot of work and if you're being pedantic, the lightweight plastic back don't really make you feel like you're holding a £500 device.

That price is high, no doubt. It's on a par with the iPad 4, which is already at the sharp end of what people are willing to pay for a high-end tablet. It's weight is a big positive for the device, but the lack of said mass does make it hard to shell out so much for it, oddly.

Other concerns such as the web browsing and older Jelly Bean software are things that may niggle at first, but can be sorted out through updates, which we imagine will happen soon.

Final verdict

We couldn't wait to get our greasy mitts on the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, having been teased ever since it was unveiled. But we didn't go into it blindly - so often, we've waited for the next big thing, only to feel that sense of 'meh' almost immediately. We never felt that with the Sony Xperia Tablet Z.

Yes it's pricey, but this is a premium product that screams Sony. It speaks volumes that we really had to work hard to find downsides and cons to stick in the above 'We disliked' section to make this a balanced review - the majority of the 'bad' things were just average performance, although we would have loved a larger battery if physics could be re-written and it could be done without adding weight.

The screen response could definitely be improved, and the plastic back adds an element of flex that's unappealing. Again, we recognise that this is due to the lack of weight, but it still grates.

You could save money and have a crisper screen with the Google Nexus 10, but you'll lose TV control support and gain a lot of weight - it's a much chunkier device, and that really matters with tablets these days.

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is a triumph, a tablet that genuinely deserves consideration when you're in the market for a new top-end gadget. If you're against the iPad for any reason, or even just agnostic over your OS, the Sony has taken the best of Android and fused it with its own innovation to make a device that delights in more ways than we can count.