Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet Review


Introduction


After releasing the thinnest, lightest 10" slate last year with the Tablet Z, now Sony unleashes on the unsuspecting masses another svelte boomerang with the Xperia Z2 Tablet, that takes those same superlatives away from its predecessor. It also adds a much more powerful processor, and an improved display. Moreover, Sony again managed to keep the tablet waterproof, and with IP58 certification at that, so let's dive five feet deep into Sony's newest Android KitKat slate.

In the box

  • Wall charger
  • MicroUSB cable
  • Warranty and information leaflets

Design

The thinnest, lightest 10” tablet is an engineering marvel with pretty looks and waterproof design

Clocking in at the breathtaking 0.25" (6.4mm) girth, the Xperia Z2 Tablet is the slimmest tablet out there, almost as thick as its microUSB port. It is also the lightest of them 10" slates, weighing only 15 ounces (426g) for the Wi-Fi model, and 15.5 ounces (439g) for LTE/3G model. For comparison, the Tablet Z predecessor is 6.9mm thin, and weighs 17.46 oz (495 g), while the venerable iPad Air is 7.5 mm, and with 16.86 oz (478 g) of weight, respectively. Couple the compact and feathery chassis with the IP58 certification, and the Z2 Tablet becomes one of the most well-engineered mobile devices out there. You can dunk it in up to 5 feet (1.5m) of water for more than an hour, and it won't skip a beat. Just make sure the protective port flaps are firmly closed when you lie in the bathtub, binge-watching Game of Thrones, or indulging in some other geeky pleasure.

Sony's slate, however, is much wider than its main competitors – the iPad Air, and the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. It immediately becomes clear why the Z2 Tablet is 10.47” (266mm) wide, and Samsung's tablet, which has a screen of the same size, is 9.57” (243mm), while the iPad Air is 9.45” (240mm) wide. It all went in the unwieldy side bezel, which is so large that makes the 10” display look smaller than it is, much like a picture frame. On the positive side, as it makes the tablet very comfortable to hold, with plenty of space to rest your thumbs on without touching the display. Also, since the tablet is so thin and light, you can easily just hold it with one hand, as there's this wide area for the opposing thumb to grip the slate firmly into place. Thus, the thick side bezel is not aesthetically pleasing, but since it brings added comfort when working with the Z2 Tablet, we are willing to let it slide. The firm grip is also aided by the soft-touch plastic material that Sony used for the back. The rear, however, smudges very easily if your fingers are even a bit oily, wet or sweaty, so you won't look as cool in Starbucks, as when you are holding an aluminum iPad Air, for instance, but you are not that shallow, right? Right?

Sony used its OmniBalance design language, with the signature circular power key, creating a well-crafted slate with soft edges. That same key is one of the remarks we have about the side buttons, as it feels rather wobbly under your finger. It is positioned very well when you hold the tablet in portrait mode, though. The key goes under the first phalanx of your thumb, so it's within an easy reach, yet it's not right under your thumb tip, so you can't press it accidentally. The metallic volume rocker underneath it feels sturdier, but is too thin, and harder to find and press without looking, plus the tactile feedback is rather shallow. At the top left side of the frame you can find the microUSB port, and the memory card slot, which are covered with protective flaps. Those flaps fit very tightly, and are so flush with the side that if they weren't marked, you might be looking around for them for quite some time. The tablet will keep reminding you to close them if they are left open, or else all waterproof bets are off. Sony's tablet flaunts four stereo speakers on the sides (in two by two format), which are situated in a way that prevents you from covering them with your palm when you hold the tablet in landscape mode.


Display

With a new Color LED technology the 1080p display looks bright and vivid, though its pixel density and reflectance leave something to be desired

Sony is using a new LED display technology for the 10.1” 1920x1200 pixels IPS screen on the Xperia Z2 Tablet. Called Live Color LED, it uses red and green phosphor with blue LEDs, and has tailored color filters on top, that are said to produce brighter and more evenly-spread lighting. The end result should be more vibrant colors on the display, yet without the accompanying oversaturation of OLED screens, for instance. That is indeed the case with the Z2 Tablet, as its Triluminos panel shows vivid, somewhat unrealistic colors, which still aren't gaudy to look at. The 6664 Kelvins temperature is very close to the reference point (6500K), so white is spot on.

Some may scoff at the 223ppi pixel density, given that we have high-end Samsung slates with 1600p screens. Still, the Z2 Tablet's 1200p is more than enough for most purposes. The issue with the display is not the pixel density, but rather its high light reflectance ratio – the mirror-like effect is constant, and especially annoying if you use the tablet outdoors, despite the decent 414 nits peak brightness. The IPS panel's viewing angles are very good, and overall the screen of the Z2 Tablet is an improvement over its predecessor, if not in resolution, then in image quality.





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