Sony Xperia Tablet Z review: Stepping up

The Xperia Tablet Z gets a prominent spot in a long list of iconic designs by Sony. Easily one of the best looking tablets around, the Z inherits the slim, water-resistant design of its smartphone counterpart, which earns it extra points with the outdoor-loving crowd.
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Sony Xperia Tablet Z official images
The angular OmniBalance design is all the more impressive given Sony has managed to shave down the thickness to the mere 6.9mm. Not that it matters much in actual use – this isn’t a gadget to put in a pocket, slim or not, but we have been programmed to believe that “thin = cool” and the Tablet Z is keen to take advantage. On a more practical side, the tablet weighs under 500g, at least 100g less than its direct competitors.
The folded magazine design of previous Sony tablets may be gone, but the media playing spirit is not – the Xperia Tablet Z has an IR blaster to control home equipment, alongside a custom Sony music player (Walkman) and a video player with solid DLNA credentials.
Here are the other highs (and lows) on the Sony Xperia Tablet Z spec sheet:
Key features
6.9mm slim tablet with IP57 certification, dust and water resistant (up to 1m for 30 minutes)
10.1″ 16M-color TFT capacitive touchscreen of WUXGA resolution (1920 x 1200 pixels); Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2
1.5 GHz quad-core Krait CPU, Adreno 320, 2GB RAM, Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 chipset
Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
Optional Quad-band GPRS/EDGE, tri-band 3G with HSPA connectivity (HSDPA, 42 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps), penta-band 4G LTE (100Mbps down, 50Mbps up)
16GB of built-in memory
microSD card slot
8 MP autofocus camera
2.2MP front-facing camera
1080p HD video recording @ 30 fps with stereo audio
Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot
Stereo Bluetooth v4.0
MHL microUSB 2.0
Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
Infrared port
GPS with A-GPS support; digital compass
1080p MKV and SD XviD/DivX video support
Accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer
6,000mAh Li-Po battery
Main disadvantages
Runs an older Android version
Screen has poor outdoor visibility
Audio output quality is not on par with other tablets on the market
Uses a previous generation chipset, slightly slower than the current best
6,000mAh battery isn’t very big for a 10.1″ tablet
WUXGA resolution on the 10.1″ screen with 224ppi is a lot better than what Samsung have on the Galaxy Note 10.1 (149ppi) and quite close to the iPad 4 screen (264ppi). The chipset and Android OS version are a bit behind the times, but neither is a deal-breaker in our books.
We have to mention the water resistance, of course, which very few tablets have. The Tablet Z’s predecessor, the IPX-4 certified Tablet S, was only splash-proof. An IP57 tablet like the Tablet Z on the other hand can withstand water jets and even submersion.
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Sony Xperia Tablet Z in our office
Sony has delivered a premium package with the Xperia Tablet Z, at least on paper. Let’s dig into the hardware details to see if the claims hold up.

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