|+ Lovely design||- Disappointing quality speakers|
|+ Really slim and light||- Display can appear artificial|
|+ Good looking||- Range of Android apps smaller than iOS apps|
|+ User friendly Android UI|
|+ Expendable storage|
"A stunning tablet that is waterproof, slim and light. Its screen doesn’t quite live up to that on the Samsung and Apple tablets, nor does it provide the stylus support of the Galaxy Notes, but nevertheless it is a really powerful, device with plenty of multimedia offerings. It may not be a massive upgrade from the Xperia Tablet of last year, but the Z2 has now found its place in the high end of the market."
The Z2 tablet, which has been launched along with the Xperia Z2 phone, is Sony’s equivalent of the iPad Air. Under the hood sits a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 chip, teamed with 3MB of RAM. Running the show is Android 4.4.2 Kitkat, with a Sony ‘skin’ over the top.
The body is dustproof and waterproof and has Sony’s Omnibalance design, which looks pretty – nicer even than the iPad – but can the software live up to the promise of the hardware?
Picking up the Z2 for the first time we were amazed at just how light and slim it is – it constantly amazes us each time we use it – especially when you consider how chunky the Z2 phone is. The Z2 is a tad slimmer than the iPad Air at 6.4mm, and quite a lot lighter – 439g compared with 478g.
What the tablet doesn’t inherit from the Z2 smartphone is its aluminium body. Instead, Sony has produced a plastic chassis with metal strips featuring around the edge. It does mean it is lighter, but it also allows there to be quite a bit of flex if you put pressure on its corners. It’s not enough to say don’t buy it but the user does need to be aware that it is a different build to the smartphone. However, anyone who wants a light, slim tablet will happily pay the price.
To ensure its waterproof credentials, the slots for MicroSD, SIM and microUSB are all covered with flaps – a bit of a nuisance when you want to charge. However, there is also a waterproof magnetic charging port, which can be used with Sony’s dock, which must be bought separately. This is already waterproof.
The power button sits on the left edge of the tablet, while the headphone jack can be found in the bottom left corner.
On the plastic back, with its slightly rubberised, matt finish, lurks an 8.1MP snapper. We like the feel of this finish, which is a little soft and preferable to the glass finish of the Z2 smartphone. It does, though, tend to give somewhat and you might hear it groan or squeak under pressure.
The screens measures 10.in, offers a 1200x1920 resolution, with a pixel density coming in at 224ppi. It’s not up there with the 264ppi of the iPad Air, but that’s not the whole story. The display proved bright and bold with impressive viewing angles.
Saturation may be a bit much for some users – it’s the X Reality screen technology from Sony that produces these bold colours, and sometimes they can look a tad artificial. But the good news is that you can switch it off – something we would recommend if viewing video or looking at photos. You can also tackle the saturation by tweaking white balance – if not, you’ll be reminded of the colours seen on the Samsung AMOLED displays from a few years back. As a standalone device you probably wouldn’t think much of it – it’s only when viewed side by side with other devices that the colours really stand out as looking somewhat artificial.
The Z2 has the same reflection issues as the smartphone but as you’re less likely to use the tablet outside so it may not be much of an issue. Also things such as Sony’s own Movies and PlayStation Mobile don’t look quite as sharp.
Running on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, with Sony’s UI laid over the top, it is just like using the Z2 phone – or the Z1 from last year – but there are a few touches that make it work better on a bigger display. Swipe from the top left to see message and app notifications, from top right to get to Bluetooth, screen brightness and Wi-Fi.
Sony has kept its modifications quite subtle – you’ll find extra widgets for the home screen that link to a multimedia catalogue of games, music and films, as well as small tweaks to the settings apps, snapper and pull-down notification panel.
It also features Sony’s Walkman app for music playback, Movies for accessing Sony’s own film catalogue, Album for looking at images, Video Unlimited for films, gaming via PlayStation Mobile and another PlayStation app.
These look simple but may confuse those new to Sony’s Android products. Take a bit of time to set it all up though, and you’ll have a wide ranging Sony experience.
If you want to control your TV from the tablet, use the infrared blaster teamed with the Remote Control app – it also controls iPod dock and stereo and Blu-ray player – and you’re not confined to Sony products either. You can also use the tablet as an all-in-remote control for the TV.
The latest quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon chip teamed with 3GB of RAM makes the Z2 really speedy. Intensive game Real Racing 3 ran as smoothly as anywhere else, HD videos teamed well from Netflix and YouTube – and there were no overheating problems either – surprising for such a slim device.
You should get a good weekend out of the 6,000mAh battery even with heavy use. But streaming HD Netflix for an hour saw it drop to 14 per cent (also with social media notifications and push email running in the background.
But the tablet did seem to have trouble holding a charge on standby. Left overnight, with Wi-Fi on and social media notifications running, it dropped by 10 per cent.
There are two modes available to save battery power – Stamina switches off Wi-Fi and stops apps running in the background, and if you’re really low on charge., the aptly named Low-battery mode turns down the screen brightness and turns off vibration, X Reality, mobile data, GPS, Bluetooth and auto sync.
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet remains the best-looking Android tablet on sale at the moment and shows that Android tablets can take on the mighty iPads. It is amazing light and slim, with a strong, although slightly flexible chassis and a top-quality design. The rear panel is the only plastic we have seen on a mobile device that manages to both look and feel like a quality product.
The screen is a bit over the tip in terms of saturation, which is not a deal-breaker, nor is the reflective nature of the display, although it’s more noticeable than on other high-end tablets.
It’s at the top of the game when it comes to performance, with 3D games and HD video running smoothly. Software is easy to use and runs well – although we don’t know why Sony has duplicated its own apps with those available from Google.
Android apps for tablets are not as well designed as those on iOS – although that is not Sony’s fault – and some, such as Facebook, can look as though they have been simply stretched to fill a larger screen.
So what could you opt for if not the Z2? Well, the Samsung Galaxy Note offers the user more in the way of productivity thanks to its S Pen stylus. But this is beautiful tablet – it’s slim, light and waterproof – what’s not to like? The only things that could make it better are smaller bezels and a higher-res display.
|Dimensions: 266 x 172 x 6.4mm
Screen size: 10.1 inches
Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1200 pixels
Pixels per Inch (PPI): 224
Processor: 2.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801
Battery capacity: 6000 mAh
Onboard Memory: 16GB (microSD support)
Camera: 8.1 megapixel / 2.2 megapixel (front-facing)
Operating system: Android 4.4
Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes / Yes / Yes
Bluetooth / NFC: Yes / Yes
Colours: Black, White
Launch Date: 14th March
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