Sony Xperia Tablet Z Review

Introduction and Design

Sony's second shot at Xperia slate glory, the Tablet Z, undoubtedly combines the best design and entertainment features the company can muster. It somehow managed to make the thinnest and lightest Full HD 10-incher out there, and made the whole package waterproof at that.

It is not easy to replicate Sony's achievement, as the Xperia Tablet Z also sports all bells and whistles we've come to expect from a modern day slate at a reasonable price, plus four 3D surround sound speakers, thus shaping it as arguably the best Android tablet around, on paper at least. Is it so when you get to use it for a while? Read on our review to find out...


It is not everyday we see tablets with less than 9mm thickness, and only the Toshiba Excite X10 managed sub-8mm girth. Sub-7mm tablets? Just the Xperia Tablet Z, mind you, and at 17.46 oz (495 g), it is also the lightest in its category, even more astonishing for a waterproof slate. It can be submerged in three feet of water and stay there for 30 minutes, or get into a dust storm without any damage. While it's unlikely you'll be using the waterboarding feature for anything but bragging rights, the important part is that you won't be afraid to use it with wet hands in the kitchen to scroll through recipes, take it to the beach, or video chat in the rain, for instance.

The dry dimension numbers translate into an incredible holding experience from the moment you grab it for the first time, and managing a 10” tablet with one hand while you operate the screen with the other has never been easier on the wrist.

We aren't expecting any premium metal chassis in the thinnest and lightest 10-incher out there, and the Xperia Tablet Z is indeed wrapped in a soft-touch plastic, with rubberized sides, and tight protective flaps on top of the memory card, headphone and charging ports.

The only metal piece is the round aluminum power/lock key on the left, which is a signature trademark for Sony's flagship Xperias now. The volume rocker beneath it is a bit too thin to be comfortably pressed, and its key travel could be deeper.

The quad-speaker system at the bottom corners is water-tight, too, in line with the tablet's IP57 elements-resistant certification, and the music kept pumping after we briefly dipped the tablet in a water fountain. The four speakers are situated pretty well so as you don't cover them while holding the tablet with both hands, as so often happens on other slates.

The 8 MP camera on the back is placed a bit unorthodox at the upper corner, so have this in mind when arranging the tablet for a shot, so as you don't cover the lens with your finger. Also, at such record low weight and thickness, the tablet is prone to being carried from one room to the other grabbed by the corner, which smudges the lens cover if you grab it by the wrong one.


Sony put a 10.1” 1920x1200 pixels sensor-on-lens display panel in the Tablet Z, meaning that the touch layer is directly placed onto the screen without the typical air gap in-between, making for a slimmer package, thus allowing for the record thin slate.

This air gap elimination also reduces reflection and increases backlight throughput, for a pretty decent outdoor viewing experience, even in direct sunlight. Sony boasts that this screen covers a full wide color gamut, bringing its Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 down to a high-res Xperia tablet panel for the first time. That whole marketing speak translates into a display whose colors can look pretty saturated when showing pictures or video, though not up to the gaudy level of OLED screens.

In addition to the high brightness and vivid colors, the display panel sports very good viewing angles, too, though the vertical ones seem a tad wider than the horizontal.

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