Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Review
Roughly two months ago, Sony unwrapped its latest trio of devices – apart from the newest Xperia Z3 flagship and its smaller-sized iteration, the Xperia Z3 Compact, the company also announced a new 8-inch tablet from the same device family. Dubbed the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, it's Sony's second slate for 2014, packing top-of-the-line hardware specs in a svelte water-tight body, alongside some of Sony's newest software features (such as Ultra Stamina mode) that arrived with the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact. On paper, it looks as if this 8” tablet could be among the best slates money can buy you at the moment, but is this truly the case with the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact? Let's delve in and find out.
In the box:
- wall charger
- microUSB charging cable
- warranty and information leaflets
A compact, light as a feather body meets Sony's OmniBalance design sans the premium feel
Sony's previous tablet, the 6.4mm-thin Xperia Z2 Tablet was the slimmest tablet available. Well, it has been now dethroned by the 6.1mm Apple iPad Air 2 and a slew of others, but Sony's craftsmanship has once again proved that the company can continuously amp up its game. At 6.4mm, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is still among the most slender and compact 8-inch slates in the wild. It also tips the scales at merely 9.52 oz (270 g), which makes it as light as a feather. The slate is slightly tall, though, at 8.40” (213.4 mm), yet rather narrow at 4.87” (123.6mm). This makes it an exquisite catwalk star that is not afraid of the water, as it is IP65/68-certified, which is one of the highest ingress protection levels. This means that it will survive a water dip for up to 30 minutes in depths of no more than 1.5 meters.
Once you take the Z3 Tablet Compact in the hand, you'll most probably feel as if you are holding a blown-up version of the Xperia Z3 smartphone. The OmniBalance design is omnipresent, yet the tablet does not have an all-glass back like the Xperia Z3/Z3 Compact, for better or for the worse. The rear of Sony's newest slate employs a soft plastic, which is pleasant to touch, provides a fair amount of grip, and virtually holds zero fingerprints. The same soft plastic material also encircles slight bits of the side frames of the device. Sony says that the very corners of the device are made of stainless steel, though they're indistinguishable from the gray plastic that is used in the side frames. The 6.4mm-thin side frames are definitely not as grippy as the back of the slate, mind you. The front of the tablet is, unsurprisingly, adorned with an all-glass panel. As a whole, holding and operating the slate is a pleasant experience.
One can find the speakers of the device at its top and bottom, neatly hidden between the side frames and the glass panel. At the right side of the tablet, we can find the power button and the volume rocker. Both are protruding outside the frame and are easy to find, yet the power button is a bit more wobbly than we'd like it to be. The audio jack can be found at the top of the right side frame of the tablet. In the meantime, the left side frame of the device provides access to the microSD and nano SIM slots, while the microUSB port is on the bottom frame of the 8-incher. All of these are protected by water-tight detachable flaps, which snap out easily despite the snug fitting in their respective housings. However, the slate does not feel as premium as some of its rivals (iPad mini, for example) – Sony could have done better. For example, adopting the glass back of the Xperia Z3/Z3 Compact would have been a more premium solution.
It's not impossible to hold the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact with one hand in portrait orientation. However, it's extremely comfortable to hold the razor-thin device in landscape mode with both of your hands, as you can rest your thumbs at the bezels. Due to the small weight, toting it with a single hand in landscape orientation is convenient as well, though a little unwieldy.
A mixed bag which performs surprisingly well in certain aspects, yet leaves a lot to be desired
The 8-inch IPS LCD display of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has a resolution of 1200 x 1920 pixels. This works out a rather good pixel density of 283ppi, which is far from from some of the more pixel-rich rivals, yet Z3 Tablet Compact's Triluminos display is sharp enough and we had a relatively hard time discerning any individual pixels.
The display once again employs Sony's Live Color LED technology, which promises a wider color range with better vibrancy and luminance aboard. The display is (typical for the Z3 line) once again way colder than we'd like it to be - with a color temperature of 9034K (far from the 6500K reference), the white is predominantly bluish. At the same time, its color accuracy is completely disappointing – its readings fail to match with almost all of the targets on the sRGB chart.
The default display mode, X-Reality, promises to deliver vibrant and sharp-looking images with enhanced contrast, but enabling or disabling it won't fix the domination of the blue color by a margin. It's also unnatural of Sony to expect its customers to tinker with the unfamiliar (for most) white balance settings of the display. All in all, the display bears a hefty improvement over Xperia Z2 Tablet's one (mostly in the viewing angles segment), yet it leaves a lot to be desired.
The display reflects quite a bit of light. Fortunately, it's bright enough – the slate achieved a maximum brightness of 590 nits during our benchmarks (as a side comparison the Apple iPad mini 2 stands at 450 nits), which means that using the tablet under direct sunlight is a hassle-free experience. The minimum brightness, on the other hand, stands at 14 nits and this will definitely make your eyes squint if you are using it right before you fall to sleep. The viewing angles of Z3 Tablet's Compact are excellent, and you'll hardly experience any color distortions.