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Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Sony Xperia Tablet Z: Our new top Android ten-incher

'The most convincing 10-inch slate on the market'

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Skinny

The only fly in the ointment is the positioning of the speakers: it’s all too easy to cover the grilles when you are holding the Z in your lap, though I suspect increased familiarity will fix that problem for owners.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Perfect for the British summer...

The drive to keep the Tablet Z slim and light has led to a compromise with the battery. At 6000mAh it’s smaller than the Nexus 10’s 9000mAh battery and close to half the capacity of the iPad 4’s 11,560mAh cell. That said, I was still easily able to get an average of two full days of use from a charge.

The 1080p video loop-of-death test turned in a result of five hours and 45 minutes with the Wi-Fi radio on and the screen at 60 per cent brightness. That’s acceptable but no more. Strangely the bundled USB charger only has a 1.5A output. The 2A charger that came with my Nexus 7 juiced the Table Z up far more quickly.

With an 8.1Mp camera at the back and a 2.2Mp webcam up front, both of which have a CMOS Exmor R sensor, the Z is photographically the best-endowed tablet money can buy. The webcam is particularly good - my first video call in glorious 1080p 16:9 with the Z got a reaction of, “Blimey, Al, you look good”. If only she’d been talking about me not the image quality.

Here’s a very brief video of the Xperia Tablet Z’s webcam in action:

Watch Video

I’ve no quibbles with the Z’s connectivity portfolio either. The micro USB port supports On-The-Go hosting and MHL media output. On the wireless side you get 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC. The LTE version supports 4G across the 800, 850, 900, 1800, 2100 and 2600MHz wavelengths, and 3G speeds of 42Mbps down and 5.8Mbps up.

My review device came with the 3/4G modem and both the cellular and Wi-Fi reception proved usefully robust in all my usual test blackspots. I can’t comment on 4G speeds because Vodafone, Which supplied my review unit, hasn’t rolled out its UK 4G network yet.

The cherry on the cake is that Sony has priced the Z pretty aggressively. The 16GB device will set you back £399 which is the same as a 16GB iPad 4 but of course that has no storage expansion or GPS, and inferior cameras. The £319 16GB Nexus 10 is cheaper but also lacks a memory card slot. If you want a cellular tablet the 16GB 4G Tablet Z has a sticker price of £499, again the same as the cellular but still cardless iPad. There’s no such thing as a 3G or 4G Nexus 10.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Now that’s a thin tablet

The Reg Verdict

There’s very little to criticise the Xperia Tablet Z over. It’s thin, light, powerful, well-made, waterproof and it has a memory card slot. The battery life could be better but the cameras are both excellent by tablet standards, and the media playback apps and hardware are superb.

In fact, I’d say the Tablet Z is the most convincing 10-inch tablet on the market at the moment and certainly the best that Sony has ever produced. If I was thinking about splashing out on a new smartphone and a new tablet, I’d spend the money on an Xperia SP and an Xperia Tablet Z, respectively. Never before would Sony have topped either my phone or tablet want-list, let alone both, so it’s clearly doing something right. ®

Thanks to Vodafone for lending us a test device.

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Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Sony Xperia Tablet Z: Our new top Android ten-incher

Extremely thin yet solidly made 10-inch Android tablet that’s a great performer, well priced and expandable too.
Price: £399 (16GB) £499 (16GB, 4G) RRP

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