Adding another notch to the Xperia series, Sony announced the Tablet Z at a recent event. The tablet will make its way to the Indian shelves sometime around May. My expectation from the device, taking into account Sony’s past tablet offerings, was minimal. However, in light of the Xperia Z smartphone, it was good to see that Sony has upped its game and I was quite eager to see just what the new tablet would offer. I managed to wrangle a few minutes with the device and here’s my initial take on the Xperia Tablet Z.
Take a quick look at the Xpera Tablet Z on video –
The Tablet Z comes off as a larger version of the BlackBerry PlayBook in many ways. The simple elegance of flat rectangular surfaces makes the device appear to be trendy and sophisticated, much like the PlayBook. The difference here is that the Tablet Z is so much thinner. In fact, at just 6.9 mm in depth, the Tablet Z is pretty much the slimmest device out there at the moment. Using what Sony calls an OmniBalance design, holding the device at the corner with just two fingers proved to be undaunting even with the weight of 495 g behind it, to say the least. As large and slim as the device may be, the fact that it is so well-balanced is a testament to Sony’s new design form.
Yes, it really is this thin!
The Tablet Z has a 10.1-inch LED backlit display sporting a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. Using Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine 2 with the Reality Display technology, the viewing experience in all of the indoor lighting conditions was really good. Unfortunately, I was unable to check it outdoors. Colour reproduction and contrast was quite strong, making HD videos and hi-res images look vivid.
Like the Xperia Z smartphone, the Tablet Z too features well-concealed ports for the memory card, USB/MHL port, earphone socket and SIM card slot. They’re flushed into the design to give the tablet a seamless feel all around. This device also boasts of IP55 and IP57 grade protection from the elements like water (up to 1 metre for 30 minutes) and dust. And just like the phone, it’s protected by shatterproof glass and a polycarbonate rim all around it. The flaps are well-secured to envelop the various access ports and keep the environmental hazards at bay. The very distinctive Power/Sleep button is placed on one side and is the only actual protrusion on the otherwise flat surface of the device.
All in all, the Xperia Tablet Z is a rather impressive piece of hardware that looks and feels quite fresh in terms of design and handling.
16GB of on-board storage plus more via microSD card support up to 64GB
The specifications don’t quite differ from the Xperia Z smartphone. Sony has also incorporated the tablet with a 1.5GHz quad-core Krait (Snapdragon S4) processor from Qualcomm and 2GB of RAM to help ensure smooth functionality. The test devices on display performed adequately, but I’d still like to test it in our labs to see just how fluid the UI and overall working proves to be. The dedicated Adreno 320 GPU should help quite a bit when it comes to high-end mobile gaming. All of this will help run Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2, which will hopefully receive an upgrade by the time the tablet hits the Indian market. On-board storage of 16GB plus 64GB microSD card support is yet another specification that bears mention.
The new additions to Sony’s customised Android UI play well with the large display area and the graphics to support it. Like the new mobile devices, the focus of the Tablet Z is to be an entertainment module for most part. A Walkman music player is also there with all the trimmings including presets, 3D surround sound options and a graphic EQ setting to customise your audio. Sony’s Virtualphones Technology or VPT helps further customise the audio, and to expand that even further, Sony has thrown in its ClearAudio+ system along with a variety of other settings ranging from xLOUD, Clear Phase, Clear Bass, Dynamic Normalizer and more. There’s enough here to make absolutely sure you don’t miss a beat, a gun shot or a bone cracking in some fight scene. The set of four external speakers also make quite an impression.
Connect your DUALSHOCK 3 controller for enhanced gaming
The Tablet Z is also PlayStation certified and comes with an app to use with your DUALSHOCK 3 controller for the PS. With a separately sold adapter, you can hook the controller up to the tablet for gaming.
There’s also tons of connectivity features infused into the Tablet Z. In the wireless segment, it’s got Wi-Fi with all the trimmings – Wi-Fi Direct, Hot Spot creation, DLNA, 3G support (for the version that supports it), NFC for use with a variety of accessories available (headphones speakers etc.), One Touch services with compatible devices and, of course, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP. Sony has also included an IR sensor and a Remote Control app that lets you use the tablet with a wide array of TVs etc., allowing you to use it as a universal remote. MHL is what you can use to hook the tablet up to your TV with microUSB. GPS with GLONASS support is also on-board.
8MP camera with plenty of goodies
An 8MP shooter is loaded up onto the rear of the device and is fitted with Sony’s Exmor R mobile sensor to help enhance low light images. The same sensor is also added to the front facing 2MP camera to make HD video chatting better too. The main camera also features Burst Mode amongst a plethora of other settings.
The Tablet Z is touted to have a 6000 mAh battery, which should be a serious powerhouse. With that kind of a power pack, it shouldn’t be too hard to get some heavy usage out of the device.
Here's a quick look at the Tablet Z:
First impression in a nutshell
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z has a lot going for it with a superb design form that’s well-built and loaded to the hilt with features. With all of this, Sony better price the device competitively if it wants it to fare better than the last lot. From purely a first impression standpoint, the Xperia Tablet Z has quite a lot to entice most users. However, should it be priced around Rs 32,000-35,000, I believe Sony could just have a winner on its hands.
Stay tuned for the detailed review post the official launch scheduled for May.
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