updated 05:46 am EST, Tue February 26, 2013
New Android tablet gets Sony style
Sony is currently promoting its Xperia Tablet Z as the premier 10-inch tablet, the thinnest and first water-resistant device in its class. After being impressed by the company's Xperia Z and ZL smartphones at CES, we were eager to handle the Tablet Z this week at Mobile World Congress and see how it stacks up against the competition.
At 495 grams, the Tablet Z is surprisingly light for its size--the iPad 4, in comparison, weighs in at 652 grams. The company also shaved several millimeters from the thickness, shrinking the housing to just 6.9mm. For a 10-inch tablet, we found it to be one of the easiest to hold. We also liked the ability to lay the tablet flat on a table without it rocking around on a curved housing, though many prefer the ergonomic grip afforded by such designs.
The Tablet Z's 1920x1200 display approaches the retina iPad's pixel density, and we prefer its pixel spread to 1920x1080 devices in the same size class. The company claims its Mobile Bravia Engine 2 tech helps improve contrast, saturation and sharpness, though the tweaks do not bring the LCD to the same black levels and saturation that can be achieved with OLED displays.
Sony is one of the first tablet makers to embrace hydrophobic coating technology directly from the manufacturing facility, providing the Tablet Z and its smartphone counterpart with basic protection against accidental spills or problems caused by dust. We believe all high-end gadgets should offer this feature. Anyone can send an iPad to Liquipel to be treated, however the aftermarket treatment costs over $100.
We are fans of Google's stock Android UI for tablets, but Sony appears to have successfully integrated its own services without interfering with the experience. Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chip handles the OS and apps without any problem, and the claimed eight hours of battery life is certainly impressive for such a thin tablet.
We've seen quite a few Android tablets that carry $499 prices but without serving as a proper competitor to the iPad. Sony's Xperia Tablet Z might be one of the first viable alternatives in the Android realm when it arrives on the market later this spring.