Since their split from Ericsson in 2011 Sony have battled hard to achieve a status they once owned in the mobile arena. 2013 has been a very successful year for Sony after releasing an array of satisfactory phones using a lot of the alphabet for their names they came across their most successful at the end of the alphabet. The letter ‘z’. The Z phone was followed on by the successful Z1.
Sony announced their Xperia tablet Z in January 2013 and released it in May 2013, still currently priced between £349.99 and £379.99 its main competition lies with the iPad air. At the time of this press release it was to be the lightest 10inch tablet around, feeling threatened by a lighter product Apple rushed production for the iPad air. The difference in weight is minimal; the Sony tablet Z weighs 495g the iPad air weighs 469g compared to the heavier and bulkier iPad 4 weighing a massive 652g.
Could the Sony Xperia Tablet Z be the iPad killer? Underneath the 10.1 inch HD reality display there is a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5 Ghz processor, with 2GB of ram. There is a 16GB on board storage, which can be expanded via the micro SD slot on the bottom of the tablet. The tablet is splash resistant, which is a nice feature; however it should not to be submerged in water like the Z1. Each port is covered by a removable tab, although these tabs appear to be a bit flimsy. With a lot of wear and tear could they fall off and can they be replaced? The tablet according to my wife was very rectangle and too big. For a tech addict it gives you perfect widescreen viewing with a minimal letter box.
The screen like most tablets is a fingerprint magnet, only really noticeable when the screen is turned off, these are not seen during use with the bright Sony bravia powered screen.
Annoyingly enough, the rear of the device also suffers from fingerprints. A rubberised, matt finish somewhat similar to that on the Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 (2013) covers the back and aside from the little hole for the camera and a subtle Xperia logo you will only see greasy paw marks.
On the top side of the tablet we have the infared enables your tablet to communicate with your television and other remote control devices. I will talk about this connectivity later.
On the left hand side we have the 3.5mm audio jack, the power on button, the volume rocker and a speaker.
On the bottom we have two speakers, the MicroSD card slot and the MicroUSB charge port.
On the right hand side we have a speaker.
Set up on the Sony tablet Z is simple as with all android devices, enter a few details then connect to the internet and boom you are ready to go.
The home screen is the similar Sony setup. This is all customizable. The use of both info bars at the top and bottom is very clever.
The top info bar starting from left to right has the Google search button, and voice search button, this is followed by space for four app shortcuts, set as the camera and chrome I found this really helpful when using the tablet. Following this space you have the number of home screens available, this is expandable up to seven, however I only would find myself using three of these on any device I have. In the top right hand corner you have a shortcut to the home screen customizing page; this is also available by pressing anywhere on the home screen. Finally there is the shortcut to the apps installed on the device. The bottom info bar left from right has the soft keys for back, home screen, and app viewer.
Stuck in the middle we have a shortcut to the small apps or floating apps. These apps enable true multitasking and are appearing on more and more devices. The next soft key is the remote control. On the bottom right you have your toolbar menu which pops up and is expandable to go to the settings.
Multitasking small apps
The small apps pre installed include browser, calculator, clip manager, notes, recorder, remote control and timer. They all function over what you are doing, for example you have shopping to do online on a number of stores, make a note of what you have to buy and leave the note on the screen like a post it. Another great example of the small apps functions when watching a film you can load the browser to search imdb.com to find that actress’s name that looks so familiar. In the app store there is a number of these small apps, ranging from a mirror app to Facebook status widget.
The 8 mega pixel camera is located at the back top left of the camera. There is an array of features available below is a few screen shots of the camera layout.
The camera is fantastic when using video calling apps like Skype, the front facing 2 mega pixel camera works really well with poor lighting conditions.
There is a slideshow option within the gallery that allows you to show off your photos via various display options accompanied with music if your choice. This turns the tablet into an advanced digital photo frame.
The images are of standard quality, they couldn’t replace your digital camera but this is what we have come to expect from a tablet camera. Whether or not you agree on them it seems that manufactures will put on a camera of mediocre quality just to have one on the tablet. Sony decided to put an 8 mega pixel camera on the back of this tablet. I have experienced worse cameras on a tablet and was surprised at the richness and quality of some of the images and videos captured. Videos shoot at 1080p quality
Examples of video/ photo
Browsing on the internet is fantastic, landscape or portrait with chrome pre installed surfing is fast flowing.
Also per installed is the Sony movies app, with a wide selection of movies to buy or rent in standard or high definition. Personally I am a huge fan of Netflix and if there was a streaming option with the Sony movies I would consider paying for it.
One of the biggest let downs is the old keyboard. There is a generous amount of space for a comfortable keyboard however it’s very basic. No swype technology as standard and it’s a two handed operation.
Sony pioneered the Walkman and that brand is here in force. The Music player is second to none. Lots of options, user friendly and nicely presented. The Walkman app has been around a while and it’s really come on leaps and bounds over the years. Married up with the stereo speakers on the device this is a pretty mean media centre.
Gaming is what this tablet was made for, my son loved playing Minecraft on the 10inch screen, as he ‘could see more’. All the games I tested on the tablet ran smoothly and it was quick to switch between applications and return to a game with no lag. The types of games we can now find in the play store are steadily getting better. Recently with every movie blockbuster there will be an android game tie in. I was amazed with one I recently downloaded for free ‘Gravity’. Graphically the game was great with single player mode and also offering online multiplayer mode I was impressed. Flying about space completing tasks and making sure you didn’t run out of air. Not the most changeling game but can past the time when travelling or a moment of boredom. Another game that looked great on the Xperia Z was Zyngas Respawnables. ‘Run, shoot, laugh and respawn’ It’s a fun game reminding me of temple fortress 2, again great for passing the time.
Sony also have their own Playstation store, the content is not that great yet but with the release of the ps4 and the continuous developments being made perhaps tablet gaming will become as popular as main stream consoles and not just a time killer past time.
TV Sideview is another app sony have developed that brings a new dimension to watching tv. Love a program you are watching hit the ‘love button’ and this can notify friends and family about the programme you are watching. It also combines info about the programme, cast, Twitter accounts.
The remote control aspect of the tablet was the main seller me, being able to control any device with the tablet was just fantastic. Simply select add device, choose the device type and then the manufacturer. You can then choose a remote type of your liking, add or close buttons. I connected three televisions in my house and my sky box. If your device was not listed, you could programme the tablet to learn the remote control buttons by pointing the remote to the infra red.
They even included a remote option for console rival xbox, which unfortunately I could not get working as I am still using the very first Xbox 360 edition. You can also connect your ps3/4 remote to the device; unfortunately I do not own a Playstation 3 or 4.
Sony has worked hard on this flagship tablet, making their tablet a household necessity rather than a novelty gadget. Over the past few weeks of testing the tablet I found myself using it as a remote for the television, browsing internet, watching films, calling friends on Skype and playing games. I have rarely used my home pc and have now found myself becoming more tablet dependant. Tablets are replacing the home PC and laptops.
The Sony Xperia Z tablet is a fantastic device with the release of android 4.4 Kit Kat in the near future this tablet is proving to be a big contender for the heavy iPad and iPad air. With sonys new line up being announced within the coming months the successor of the tablet Z will be onE to watch out for. In the mean time if you are fed up with current tablet or want to treat the family or yourself to a fantastic high spec tablet I would recommend the Xperia Tablet Z.