16GB Xperia ® Tablet Z
Waterproof and can get WiFi anywhere
The Xperia Z tablet is the best tablet i used so far, I tried a few other Android tablets. Besides the being very light and thin, I love how it is waterproof. First I thought this feature is not a big deal, but I can use the tablet when I am doing my dishes. Also I can take pictures and videos underwater!!!!!!!! I love it. Another good thing about Android is that you can use the Easy tether app to use 3G/4G of your android smart phone to get on the internet anywhere even though this is only a WiFi model. The easy tether app allows wireless bluetooth tethering to the Z tablet. Now I can use the tablet anywhere.
November 30, 2013
Two years ago, Sony stood apart from the press of identically proportioned tablets with a unique folded over design for it's Tablet S. They've put aside this quirk to differentiate the Z from the rest of the pack in arguably a more signifigant way - they've produced the thinnest and lightest tablet on the market. It strikes a balance between being thin and featherlight, yet still feeling sturdy. The tablet feels solid all the way around, offering no flex when held tightly. At a hair over a pound it's weight makes it a pleasure to hold. The front of the Z presents as a flat sheet of black glass when the screen is off, and the back is a matte, almost rubberized feeling grippy surface.
They've also sealed it inside a water-tight chassis. It wasn't until days into using it that I realized how liberating the design is - I was using the Z all the time. I'd never taken the tablet S into the mire that is my workplace, used it in the bath, or absently continued reading an article while eating a bowl of noodles over it. This feels like a device that can go anywhere, and the worst you'll get out of it is having to rinse it off in the sink.
Despite charging via USB, Sony included contact points to support a dock, an accessory that highlights one of my favorite Sony features on the Z, Smart Connect. When the tablet senses a connection, it can be set to perform a series of actions - almost any action. In my case, it's set to reduce brightness to 15%, mute notification volume and launch a world-clock app. Removing it from the dock reverses the changes and launches an RSS reader. This isn't just for the dock - the actions can be specific to any device - have the connection to a bluetooth speaker automatically open pandora and begin playback, and post obnoxious relevant message on your facebook page. It also factors in time of day - have the above pandora action occur until 10pm, then have it lower volume and launch your chillout playlist.
The screen of the Z is a full HD 1080, and boasts a density of 224 pixels per inch, putting it squarely in "retinal" territory - you'll spot no pixels here. Viewing angles are excellent, and whites have a clean warm hue, rather than appearing blue or yellow. It also benefits from a key Sony enhancement in the Mobile Bravia Engine 2, a software layer applied to video decoding. This was a feature I dismissed as marketing claptrap when I first saw the term, but the difference in visual quality is hard to deny. The same videos simply look better on the Z than on other tablets I sourced for comparison, including my wife's iPad 3. She has since abdondoned it and does her daily intake of South Korean drama/reality programming (please god, don't ask) exclusively on the Z. When viewed side by side with a Nexus 10, whose higher resolution one would expect to deliver the goods, the Z appears sharper, a clear case of raw hardware specs falling down when not supported by software. This is a major feature and I would go so far as to call this the best tablet on the market for watching video. Photos and browsing benefit as well.
Screen mirroring is a desirable feature, and here the Z stumbles. You can plug in with an MHL adapter through the USB port, though this requires a power adapter plugged in the mix, and effectively chains the Z to the TV or to the wall. Sony has also included support for Miracast, a wireless method that requires an adapter plugged into the TV. Miracast unfortunately suffers from considerable input lag, but worse, the tablet Z's Miracast connection comes at the expense of it's WiFi connection, and vice versa, which rules out browsing the web wirelessly and makes the feature largely useless.
While mirroring may not be the Z's cup of tea, transmitting videos or music saved on the tablet to your TV is fairly simple with their elegant, bruteforce approach to DLNA, a feature Sony calls Throwing. DLNA is an industry standard for sharing media over a network, and nearly every internet connected TV, Bluray player, or game console today supports it, but getting it up and running can be tiresome. With the Z, any video or audio on your tablet can be Thrown to your TV literally with the push of a button and no other setup required. It just works. The fact that it's so easy almost makes this feature sound like it's not a big deal, but the first time you save a Facebook photo from the couch, say "check this out" and Throw it onto your TV for your friends, it feels like Star Trek.
The Z integrates an IR controller like it's predecessor, and it's remote app remains one of the easiest to use on the market; adding a new device to the list is as easy as Brand Name > Type of Device > You are now finished. The Z has newly added support for macro programming, allowing you save a series of commands to be executed with the push of a single button. Maybe you like a certain color scheme and refresh rate on your TV for playing games, and another for movies? Save a macro of your actions while you navigate the menus and make the changes, and from then on make those changes happen instantly. This is a key feature of your typical 300 dollar universal remote, and it's bundled painlessly in the Z.
Sony's Android devices shine for their out of the box usability. While Samsung's TouchWiz or HTC's Sense seem to exist simply to shout LOOK WHO MADE THIS DEVICE!!! Sony's modest skin and onboard app selection enhance usability. Homescreen setup is a snap. Experienced Android users likely have their own favorite 3rd party solutions for most functions - I know I do. Yet the solutions for various tasks provided by Sony - music and video playback, file management, backup, photo editing and so on - don't just feel like going through the motions. These are clearly the best Sony has to offer, and in many cases I haven't bothered loading up my old favorites because I don't need to. There's even a very slick Peel-esque program guide app in TV SideView. The Z is a fully functional, powerful device right out of the box. Neophyte Android users or grumpy luddite parents will find this the friendliest Android tablet experience on the market.
Battery life is one area the Z falls down, and here only because it's merely average - about 8 hours of mixed usage will be the norm. Standby times are outstanding on the Z thanks to "Stamina Mode", a Sony feature that kills unnecessary features when the screen is off. What's truly damning is that there is just no quick charging of the Z. While it's not so bad you'll ever find yourself unable to use it, impatiently tapping your foot, fully recharging a depleted Z is easily an all-night affair.
The built-in cameras are another foible, though again, the worst condemnation I can offer is "passable". The camera software is fully featured, with panoramic and burst-shot modes. Low light performance however is simply poor. Shots are grainy and noisy looking. It's more than enough for video chat and you will certainly get usable photos, but don't make this the main way you were planning to take pictures at an indoor family function.
The Tablet Z is every bit the equal of any tablet on the market - Apple or Android. The value of it's incredibly light weight and thin design can't be overstated, it's simply effortless to hold. Add in the carefree mentality it's waterproof case imparts and it's everything a tablet should be. Video quality is currently the best out there, and it's audio is top-tier. Out of the box usability is the best I've seen, which is really a feat considering how careful Sony clearly was not to bloat things up with needless junk. The Sony implementation of DLNA is even easier than it was on the S. The Tablet Z doesn't just hold it's own against the competition - the bar has been raised.
November 29, 2013
This is the first tablet that I have owned and I love it! It is sleek and very lightweight. I rarely use my laptop anymore. It takes great pics and the apps are readily accessible. The price was a steal compared to other tablets and I believe that the colors are more vibrant than any that I have seen (around the same price range). I would definitely recommend this tablet!
November 24, 2013
Xtraordinary Xperia Tablet Z
I am three weeks into my Sony Xperia Tablet Z, and liking it! A lot. I find the “Tablet Z” (for short) is an excellent all-around product for web and media consumption. I have the 16Gb Wi-Fi model (SPG311U1/B).
Perhaps like me you’d also been putting off making a tablet purchase decision. Questions in my mind were: which device to align with, iOS or Android; could I use it out-of-doors; can it do the full Android feature set; will it run Flash media; would it help my photography hobby; are there enough apps? Even worse, my lovely wife has been using an iPhone and an iPad for more than a year – what if my choice of a Tablet turned out to be less capable than hers?
Until this Xperia Tablet Z came into my life I spent many hours each day tethered to my 17” Core i7 laptop (and lugging around 6.6 lbs of metal). Now, I much prefer to take the Tablet Z along and leave my laptop at home. It is truly a paradigm shift for me.
To my mind, the Xperia Tablet Z’s elegant form factor is more like a “slate” than a bulkier “tablet” just without a stylus. Slimmer than a pencil, lightweight (1 lb), and quite weather resistant, the Tablet Z often finds itself in my camera gear bag as well as perched on the bookrest of my basement elliptical trainer – sweat won’t hurt it either, so it’s Gym Proof! With the battery in Stamina Mode, the Tablet Z “sleeps” so deeply it can go for over a week in standby mode. Nice.
Of course, that’s when it’s not in our TV room controlling the HD screen and Blu-Ray player. Or, playing Netflix streaming media in any room. No, I don’t use it in the shower, but it’s nice to know that I could. ;-) I have to admit that I haven’t had much free time lately to watch TV, but I did install Sony’s free TV Sideview app in order to check it out.
More often, my Tablet Z is in my photo studio with an NFC WiFi connection to my (equally fabulous) Sony RX100/M2 digital camera. Sony’s free PlayMemories Mobile 3.3.0 app allows my Tablet Z to remotely control the RX100/M2, which is way cool and often useful since it’s like having a 10-inch LCD viewfinder! However, there are very few camera functions available compared with an abundance of goodies for the Tablet Z’s built-in 8.1 megapixel camera itself. [I’m anxiously waiting for Sony (or a third-party) to remedy this by adding robust RX100/M2 support to their wireless camera remote app so that the Tablet Z can more fully control my digital camera – some day.]
That said, I am pleasantly surprised by the usefulness of the Tablet Z’s built-in camera. It can take pretty sharp close-up (macro) photographs. And, the built-in suite of Filters and Frames are very useful – just take a look at the stylized portrait I included with this review.
I am finding the inexpensive charging cradle/tilting stand very handy and worthwhile. I’m also about to add a fast 64Gb microSD card to the Tablet Z for portfolio and working image storage, but I don’t expect to put a plastic screen protector on my Tablet Z because it would diminish the screen’s excellent color rendition and image clarity. Instead, I keep a microfiber cloth with the Tablet Z and wipe the screen clean as needed.
Learning to use the Tablet Z has not been as taxing as I had feared. Sony’s skin on top of Android is well designed, almost intuitive, and it is fast. In fact, I’m seriously thinking of putting a companion Sony Xperia Z1 mobile phone on my Wish List – I realized it’s way past time to upgrade my old BBerry when my 3-year-old granddaughter played with it and looked up at me puzzled why her finger gestures had no effect! BTW, she greatly enjoys watching media on the Tablet Z.
While I’m not fluent, yet, my 4.2.2 Jelly Bean learning curve has been shortened by the availability of so much how-to information on-line: on Sony’s site; third-party reviews; YouTube videos; and, there’s even a free “Android Tablets for Dummies” e-book. Plus, the Team at Sony’s Garden City, NY, retail store have been super helpful. I understand the Tablet Z is on Sony’s punch list for up-coming Android upgrades through 4.4 KitKat, so no obsolescence worries for the near future.
It has taken some time just to go through the many apps and widgets that Sony pre-loaded into the unit and to decide which ones to keep/use. I’ve also found a huge number of features and functions that can be added to the Tablet Z by simply installing specific apps of interest (Sony’s, Google’s and others). For instance, I just installed one of several apps that lets me interact with a printed QR code in a catalog by just placing it in the field of view of the Tablet’s camera.
This means you can customize the appearance and functionality of the Tablet Z’s screens to suit your needs and your preferred way of working with it – you are not locked into the interface that the manufacturer delivered as you might be with a non-Android tablet. Just don’t be overwhelmed with the freedom of choices!
In fact, I’ve learned how the Tablet Z can interact, control, or communicate with several other non-Sony devices we happen to own, such as my laptop, our HD TV, Blu-Ray player, and our FIOS set-top box, for starters. And, likely, many other devices in the house that have an infra-red remote. On top of that, there seems to be quite a few well-rated and free eBook Reader apps available for this Android tablet.
Bottom Line: Should you buy one of these tablets? I’ll put it this way, my Xperia Tablet Z is such a satisfying device that I changed my Gmail Signature to read: “From my Xtraordinary Sony Xperia Tablet Z”.
November 21, 2013