About six months ago, we looked at Sony’s sleek and capable Xperia Z2 Tablet, a full-size (10.1-inch) Android tablet with a wonderfully thin, light, and attractive design. It had a great-looking screen and superior battery life, too, making it a no-brainer recipient of our Editors’ Choice nod. The Xperia Z2 was in a word, a very fine tablet.
As a result, we couldn’t help but get excited when the Japanese electronics giant announced an 8-inch compact version. (We classify tablets with screens between 7 and 9 inches as “compact.”) And that excitement was well-justified: Aside from its reduced screen size and some slight changes to the port layout, the new, littler model—Sony’s Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact—is otherwise much the same super tablet, right down to the 3GB of system RAM and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor powering it inside.
While this new Xperia’s screen is 2.1 inches smaller—from 10.1 inches down to 8 inches—the native display resolution (1,920×1,200 pixels) has stayed the same. As we’ll discuss more in a bit, going down by 2.1 diagonal inches means a significant reduction in screen real estate. But because the screen is so much smaller physically, the actual density of pixels per inch (ppi) is significantly higher. And that increases the overall perceived detail and quality.
One thing that did not shrink along with the screen, though, is the price. The Z3 Tablet Compact starts at $499.99 MSRP (for a version with 16GB of onboard storage), putting it at the same starting price as the full-size Z2 Tablet. That makes the Z3 Tablet Compact the single most expensive compact slate we know of in its base version, with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Apple’s iPad Mini 3 (each starting at $399 list) being its most closely priced compact competitors.
Though we fully understand that miniaturization costs money, Sony’s pricing scheme here is puzzling, and it runs counter to competitive trends. Apple and Samsung both offer full-size and compact versions of their flagship tablets, and the latter are at least $100 cheaper than the big versions. The fact that Sony engineered the same high-performance CPU into the Z3 Compact as in the full-size Z2 Tablet is to its credit, and likely part of why the Compact’s pricing remains high.
Even so, $500 is a lot of dough for a compact Android tablet. It’s a lot, too, for any full-size tablet not named iPad. Is this Xperia worth it? It’s definitely a matter of three things: a matter of taste, a matter of how much you like Android, and a matter of how deep your pockets are. What we can say pretty firmly is that the Z3 Compact’s amazingly trim chassis makes for one elegant-feeling tablet. It’s so light and balanced that you can forget you’re holding anything at all.
In addition, the Z3 Tablet Compact, since it’s built around the same CPU and RAM configuration, performed very closely to the Xperia Z2 Tablet on several of our benchmark tests, and it actually lasted nearly an hour longer on our demanding battery-rundown test. That really surprised us, given that the Z2 performed admirably in that regard as it is. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact’s unplugged runtime is one of the best in the tablet business, Android or not.
Plus, like its predecessor, the Z3 Tablet Compact is dustproof and waterproof—to the extent, that is, that Sony claims it’s safe to use your slate in the bathtub or the rain. We’ll look at this and other design features later on in this review. But our bottom line on this little Android is that it’s upscale indeed, and priced like it knows it.
For some buyers, given all the top-notch components and that gorgeous screen, it may well be worth it. But make no mistake: This is a luxury model among Android tablets, with a price to match. And realize that those who’d prefer a still-state-of-the-art, but bigger-screened, tablet can get a Samsung Tab S or Apple iPad Air 2 flagship tab for the same price, while those after maximum performance in a compact tablet can opt for the rip-roaring, albeit much less slick, Nvidia Shield Tablet at about $200 less.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper.
We’ve had our thumbs (not to mention our other eight swiping fingers) on the pulse of Sony’s tablet-making endeavors for a few years now. While the company’s slates—all Android-based ones—haven’t been runaway sellers, the Japanese electronics giant’s efforts have been impressive, all the way back to the original Tablet S in the summer of 2011.
That first Sony tablet had a unique design and a build quality deserving of our Editors’ Choice nod. The buying public may not quite have shared our enthusiasm, but we stand by the Tablet S as one of the best early efforts in full-size Android tablets. (We classify slates from 7 to 9 inches as “compact” slates, while 10- to 12-inch tablets are “full-size.”)
About a year ago (June 2013, to be exact), Sony supplanted the Tablet S with an all-new, highly elegant design, the Xperia Tablet Z. Like the subject of this review (which is, as you’ll guess by the name, its successor), the Tablet Z was sleek and premium in every way. It was very thin and very light, with an excellent-looking screen and behind it a top-of-the-line Qualcomm 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor. Plus, it was equipped with most every performance and convenience feature we could think of in a contemporary tablet.
So, now enter the Xperia Z2 Tablet—an even thinner, lighter, and more elegant refinement of the Tablet Z. Not only does this slate come with one of the fastest tablet CPUs available (Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801), but the 10.1-inch screen is flat-out gorgeous, and the processor is paired with 3GB of system RAM for increased app-crunching oomph. Combined, these components make for one of the fastest, most attractive full-size Android tablets we’ve tested to date.
You can purchase the Xperia Z2 Tablet with 16GB of onboard storage for $499.99, direct from Sony (as well as from the usual e-tailers), or in a 32GB version for $100 more. In addition, it comes in either black or white…
Like the Xperia Tablet Z before it, the Xperia Z2 Tablet is waterproof and dustproof (at least, so long as you’ve battened down the hatches over the ports and slots), and the display has a very respectable full-HD native resolution of 1,920×1,200. (That’s not quite the field-leading 2,560×1,600 of a few full-size Samsungs, but it’s enough, to our eyes.) It’s extremely well-built and attractive, and, as mentioned, all of the internal components are top-notch. And, like Apple has done with its ever-popular iPad Air line, Sony has baked up a bunch of attractive complementary accessories, such as docking stations, keyboard covers, and noise-cancelling headphones. (We’ll look more closely at some of these in the Design & Accessories section on the next page.)
When you consider all of the compelling, matching Sony gear that you can supplement this tablet with, it makes the buying proposition more attractive, versus a tablet that requires you to make do with generic or third-party add-ons. That’s a key difference, because nowadays, we balk big-time at paying $500 for a full-size Android slate. There are just too many high-quality $300 and $400 models, such as the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10, available, and pre-Air iPads can be had in that price range nowadays, too. But now and then we run into one deserving of its premium price…and this Sony slate is among them.
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It was 2011’s Rodney Dangerfield of Android tablets. A little over a year ago, we looked at Sony’s first foray into the Android-tablet market, the Tablet S. Back then (August 2011, a lifetime ago as tablets go), we were so impressed with its unique design and feature set that we gave it our Editors’ Choice award. Apparently, though, tablet buyers didn’t see eye-to-eye with us and just kept buying iPads. The Tablet S—despite our glowing recommendation—just didn’t get much respect in the Android world.
That didn’t stop Sony, though. The Japanese electronics giant has fired back with a follow-on, the Xperia Tablet S, branded “Xperia” in line with its mobile phones. Design- and appearance-wise, this Xperia looks a lot like the original Tablet S, and it even shares some of its shortcomings, such as the lack of dedicated HDMI and USB ports (for connecting to HD monitors and USB peripherals, respectively). The Xperia also has the same (or a quite similar) 1,280×800-pixel, 9.4-inch display panel, which we found impressive on the previous Tablet S. But that was over a year ago. By today’s standards, the screen on this new version comes up about average.
Where the Xperia differs from its predecessor the most, though, is that it’s thinner and lighter. Seemingly, this should make it even more comfortable to hold than the previous model, but this new Tablet S doesn’t feel quite as well-balanced as the older one. Also, this Tablet S runs on a Nvidia’s Tegra 3 quad-core processor. The original Tablet S, on the other hand, was built around the older and less efficient Tegra 2 dual-core chip. The more powerful quad-core chip in this newer Tablet S greatly improved this slate’s performance on our benchmark tests over last year’s model. Battery life, too, increased by several hours. (We’ve got more on both issues in the last two sections of this review.)
Our $399-list review unit came with 16GB of onboard storage. Sony also offers models with 32GB ($499) and 64GB ($599). In this case, though, since the Xperia Tablet S supports full-size SD cards, increasing the storage capacity is a less costly prospect than with most tablets. (More on that in the Design section on the next page.) With that in mind, you might consider the 16GB and 32GB versions smarter buys than the 64GB model—unless, that is, you know you’ll need every possible bit of storage, both onboard and via the SD slot.
Aside from its unique design and a few innovative media and home-entertainment enhancements, in many ways the Xperia Tablet S is similar to a host of other Android tablets on the scene. Still, with that in mind, we didn’t find any glaring reasons not to buy this slate if you’re okay with Android, and some home-entertainment enthusiasts will find it more attractive than most competing models. (That’s because the Tablet S can talk to your entertainment system via its infrared emitter; more on that in the Features, Applications & Apps section later on.)
Overall, the Xperia Tablet S is a strong-performing, well-built tablet, but is it right for you? Well, that depends how you plan to use it. We can help you make that decision, though—read on.
See the full review @ Computer Shopper.
We were wowed by last year’s debut of the Sony Tablet S—a remarkable feat of slate engineering that remains our favorite Android tablet to date. The Tablet S is beautiful and extremely comfortable to hold and use. Plus, it has a gorgeous screen and performs wonderfully. Still, as unique as it is, it looks pretty much like what it is: a tablet.
We can’t quite say that about Sony’s latest offering, the Tablet P. From a distance, there’s no telling what it is. It’s not until you have it in hand and are using it that you realize it’s an Android-based slate. Even then, it’s so profoundly different from what’s come before in tablets that you might find yourself doubting its usefulness. (At first, we did, too.)
As you can see in the image below, the Tablet P is two things. It’s a tablet that folds in the center to make it more compact and easier to carry. But, depending on how you look at it and use it, it’s also a slate with two discrete screens…
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After looking at many Android tablets, I’ve finally found one that doesn’t look and act like the others. Sony has come out with quite the entertainment value here. Click here to see the Computer Shopper review.