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Xperia Tablet Z has taken the "best Android tablet money can buy" title in India today. It offers a slew of features such as India-specific content, a good skin, slim and sexy form factor, and some brilliant power under the hood. On the downside, the device may be late in receiving Android updates and 16GB onboard storage isn't the best. Nonetheless if a powerful, weatherproof Android device is on your horizon with price not being a problem, you can consider this device. It is a worthy contender to the iPad, which will still be your primary weapon of choice if a robust apps ecosystem is what you want.
Sony as a company has given us some pretty impressive innovative products only to have the limelight stolen from it at an opportune moment. Here we have a company that gave us the Walkman only to be replaced with the iPod. Once upon a time a Sony TV was considered the epitome of TVs to own. Today, people prefer a Samsung.
Sony Ericsson smartphones too were quite interesting especially the high-end ones before the dawn of the iOS and Android war. Sony’s PlayStation franchise has also been at the pinnacle of gaming. So, it’s safe to say that the company knows what it’s doing. Then again, Sony’s Android-powered smartphones weren’t the best when compared to the offerings from HTC and Samsung. The company has pulled up its socks and we now have smartphones like the Xperia Z, which is quite good.
After some bad experiences with the Tablet S and the Tablet P, Sony today has the Xperia Tablet Z available in the market. It is priced at Rs. 44,990. Has the Xperia Tablet Z done anything to grab our attention?
At a Glance
The tablet is touted as the slimmest one available in the market at 6.9mm in thickness. The tablet is quite light at 495 grams. It runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and the OS has a skin overlaying it. The tablet comes with a bunch of Sony-specific and India specific content such as a bank of all Sony TV shows that are available in India, music content and more. The tablet is also PlayStation certified giving you access to Sony’s library of games. The tablet has the ability to work as a universal remote and is also waterproof.
Let us see how the Xperia Tablet Z stacks up against competing tablets in the market when it comes to specifications.
From the above specifications it is clear that the hardware under the hood of the tablet is pretty impressive. The display resolution is good on paper even though it doesn’t match up to the fourth generation iPad.
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is the first device that we instantly fell in love with that doesn’t have curves-like Scarlett Johansson. When we showed it to people, one look at the tablet and “whoa!” is the reaction we got.
The Tablet Z is really slim and light. The best thing is that it is very comfortable to hold. This is because the rear of the tablet has a smooth matte rubberized finish to it. The top left corner of the back houses the camera of the tablet, however, there is no flash.
The front of the Tablet Z has the 10.1-inch display, the front camera and no physical buttons. The display is glossy and a fingerprint magnet. The left of the Xperia Tablet Z has the power button which sticks out like a pimple along with the volume rocker which is a little too embedded into the spine of the tablet. Above the power button you have a flap, which houses the headphone jack. There are two flaps at the extreme corner of the bottom of the tablet. One houses the microUSB port where as the other has the SIM card slot along with the microSD card slot.
Sony has done something quite smart with the placement of the speakers on the Xperia Tablet Z. You have two speakers that rest at the bottom of the device (when held in landscape mode) and one adjacent to it on the left and the right spine of the tablet respectively.
Overall the design of the Sony Xperia Tablet Z is quite sexy and elegant and at the same time quite simple and ergonomic. Considering the past Tablet S and the disastrous Tablet P, this is a major improvement and a design we are truly impressed with.
UI and Interface
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean straight out-of-the-box and there is no information about the 4.2 update. The UI of the tablet is skinned. You can swipe the lockscreen up to unlock the tablet and you also have the ability to quick access the Walkman app for your music or go directly to the camera.
Once unlocked, the Xperia Tablet Z gives you access to a maximum of seven homescreens that you can load with apps and widgets. If you have an empty homescreen, you can delete it and have only as many homescreens as you’d like on the tablet. You can also add and remove apps and widgets from the comfort of your home screen. No need to go into the apps and widget list to select the one you want for the homescreen.
The Xperia Tablet Z also comes preloaded with a bunch of interesting features. Here’s a quick look at what the tablet has to offer.
Sony Music: Sony Music gives users access to 6 months of free unlimited streaming and downloading from a library of over 15 lakh songs from international, Bollywood and regional songs.
Sony LIV: This service gives users the ability to watch from over 77 programs from SAB, Sony Entertainment and Max. Users will have access to exclusive content for Indian Idol and KBC on the tablet. At the event we saw a few episodes of CID and it was quite a pleasant experience.
X4 Video: This feature gives users the ability to watch four HD videos simultaneously on the tablet. The four videos play in a grid and you can select the video whose audio you’d like to hear by simply taping on it. You can also double tap a video to make it full screen.
Sony Select: The Sony Select section on the tablet that is essentially an additional app store. This gives you access to apps, games and more apart from the Google Play store. The down side to Sony Select is that there is no search option.
Walkman app: You also have Sony’s Walkman app in addition to Google Music. The Walkman app on the tablet gives you access to ClearAudio , a setting that automatically gives you more clarity to the sound. There is also a sound enhancement option that lets you customize the audio output to suit your requirement. This is a feature that will appeal to the audiophiles and the level of customization is quite impressive.
Movies app: The movies app gives you the option to recognise the movie and give you a synopsis of it by connecting to the Internet. You can also play content from your computer on the tablet and content from the tablet to your TV or other devices via Wi-Fi direct. It’s quite a handy option. All you need to do is be on the same Wi-Fi network and follow the steps mentioned on the tablet.
Another feature with regards to the interface is that you can house shortcuts to four apps in the top left corner of the Xperia Tablet Z’s display. No matter what homescreen you are on, these apps will remain constant. It’s a nifty way to house your most frequently accessed apps.
At the bottom of the display you have two buttons. The little purple one gives you quick access to the universal remote control app on the tablet. This app works as a pop up window so you don’t need to leave the comfort of your work while using the remote. It works in the same way that we have seen the pop up apps work on Samsung smartphones and tablets and the Asus FonePad.
The other button at the bottom of the display gives you quick access to apps that can work just like the pop up apps on the Asus FonePad. The downside is that you can have just one pop up app working at a time be it the browser, calculator, notes or timer.
Phew! With the slew of features out of the way, let’s take a look at how the Xperia Tablet Z performs when compared to the other Android tablets available in the market.
As you can see from the benchmark scores, the Xperia Tablet Z does perform very well. Considering the power under the hood, it is no surprise the scores that the tablet has achieved.
Moving on to the real world performance of the Xperia Tablet Z – it is extremely good. Sure, considering this is a high-end device we are going to nitpick and say that the tablet does have that slight lag when changing the display orientation, switching between apps and at some points of browsing and navigation, but overall its performance is excellent.
The Xperia Tablet Z’s keyboard feels smooth and great to type on. The display responds to a feather touch and it is just a treat to navigate the touchscreen. The display doesn’t have a resolution to match the retina display of the iPad but the resolution is very impressive nonetheless. Videos look crisp and vibrant, and the viewing angles are great too. Since the power under the hood is good the games we played on the tablet ran very smoothly. Real Racing 3, Dead Trigger, Angry Birds and more ran very smoothly on the tablet. It was a treat playing the games as the display was good and responsive, audio was clear and the overall performance was smooth.
One more interesting feature of the tablet is that it is water resistant. So, if you want to take the tablet with you to the bathtub and watch your favourite movie or catch up on some CID, you can do so in the comfort of your bubble bath without worrying that the tablet will get damaged.
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z has an 8.1MP camera shows off Sony’s Exmor R technology. You also have a bunch of features such as iAuto and more, which are found on Sony’s cameras. The good thing is that the images clicked during the day are crisp, sharp and good. Low lit conditions images are average. They aren’t really bad but they aren’t good either. The lack of flash also contributes to this. Even though the camera of a tablet isn’t used a lot as a primary camera, it is nice to see Sony fit the tablet with a good sensor that gives good images.
In our continuous video playback test, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z ran for nearly 5 hours, which is average. We ran a 720p MP4 HD movie on the tablet on loop. The brightness and audio was kept at max and the Wi-Fi was left on.
Put simply, the Xperia Tablet Z has taken the spot as the 'best Android tablet money can buy in India' today. It brings to the table a slew of features such as India specific content, a good skin on the Android OS, slim and sexy form factor, and some brilliant power under the hood. On the downside, the device may be late in receiving Android updates and 16GB onboard storage isn’t the best. Nonetheless if a powerful, weatherproof Android device is on your horizon with price not being a problem, you can consider this device. It is a worthy contender to the iPad, which will still be your primary weapon of choice if a robust apps ecosystem is what you want.