Sony has been making and marketing tablets since . The Japanese tech giant made an entry into the Android tablet world with Sony Tablet S with the folded-newspaper design and Tablet P having two 5.5 inch displays.
The entry however has not been quite profitable for Sony. Here is IDC’s global market share of tablets up until the fourth quarter of 2012, and in the statistic, Sony doesn’t even have its name.
Apple and Samsung are the only OEMs turning any real profit out of tablet business. In these extreme conditions, Sony is coming up with a new tablet, Xperia Tablet Z. Xperia Tablet Z has been unveiled officially in the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona yesterday. Just as Sony’s upcoming flagship, Xperia Z smartphone, Tablet Z is also waterproof. Let’s check out the new tablet from Sony and see whether it can be a really good buy or not, based on the available data.
First of all, let’s check out the technical specifications of Xperia Tablet Z. Here is a comparison between Tablet Z and iPad 4th generation, the most ruthless competitor to the Sony tablet.
|Tablet||Sony Xperia Tablet Z||Apple iPad 4|
|Display||LCD TFT IPS 10.1 inches with Mobile BRAVIA engine 2||LCD TFT IPS 9.7 inches|
|Resolution||1920x1200 (224 ppi)||2048x1536 (264 ppi, trademarked as Retina)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5 GHz||Apple A6X (dual-core) 1.4 GHz|
|Graphics card||Adreno 320||PowerVR SGX554MP4|
|Memory||2 GB||1 GB|
|Storage||16/32 GB; MicroSD up to 64 GB||16/32/64/128 GB|
|Camera||8 MP equipped with Exmor R sensor; 2.2 MP||5 MP; 1.2 MP|
|Operating System||Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (4.2 available soon)||Apple iOS 6|
|Battery||Li-Po 6000 mAh||Li-Po 11,560 mAh|
|Connectivity||4G LTE Cat 3 (100 Mbps download, 50 Mbps upload)|
HSPA+ 42 Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
|LTE (73 Mbps download)|
HSPA+ 42 Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
|Body dimensions||Height||266 mm (10.47 in)||Height||241.2 mm (9.5 in)|
|Width||172 mm (6.77 in)||Width||185.7 mm (7.31 in)|
|Depth||6.9 mm (0.27 in)||Depth||9.4 mm (0.37 in)|
|Weight||495 g (1.09 lb)||Weight||662 g (1.46 lb)|
|The Price||16 GB||$ 499||16 GB||$499 (Wi-Fi) - $629 (Cellular)|
|32 GB||$599 - $729|
|32 GB||$ 599||64 GB||$699 - $ 829|
|128 GB||$799 - $ 929|
Basically, the new Sony tablet can be regarded as one of the toughest competitors to Apple iPad. With its faster Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB RAM, slightly bigger screen, and bigger camera, it has what it takes to entice the current tablet buyers. Let’s check out the details of the tablet.
Xperia Tablet Z is simply the thinnest tablet in the world. At only 6.9 mm, it is thinner than the iPad Mini, which stands at 7.2 mm. It is slightly heavier than iPad Mini, but lighter than the bigger iPad. This makes Xperia Tablet Z an amazingly portable large tablet. Among large tablets, it is the lightest for the time being.
Xperia Tablet Z, just as most of Sony’s smartphones and tablets, is made from plastic and doesn’t inspire us in terms of build quality. In comparison to iPad, iPad Mini, and Nexus 7, Tablet Z would feel cheap in your hands. Build quality is one of the areas that Sony still has to work on. However, Sony insists the tablet is built from high quality materials and is one of the sturdiest they have ever come up with.
Tablet Z is waterproof and dustproof with Ingress Protection (IP) rating of 55 and 57. That means it has very good protection against dust (although not totally protected) and can be immersed up to about 3 feet under water.
Sony doesn’t say anything about the protection on the front glass. It doesn’t mention whether it is using Gorilla Glass for protection or not. Sony, however, uses Gorilla Glass for protecting a few of the BRAVIA TVs it ships.
The processor that comes in Tablet Z is Snapdragon S4 Pro, based on Qualcomm’s own Krait microarchitecture (based on ARMv7 instruction set, but different from ARM Cortex-A9 microarchitecture, which is found on other major tablet processors). Snapdragon has been benchmarked to be one of the fastest among tablet and smartphone processors. Qualcomm is also the leading provider of LTE baseband chips, and as we will see later, Xperia Tablet Z is LTE-capable.
The Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 processor found in Tablet Z was announced way back in 2011’s Mobile World Congress. This SoC has successfully powered a number of devices in these two years, and some of them are Google Nexus 4, LG Optimus G, HTC Droid DNA, etc. This processor has scored above 2000 points in Geekbench results, and iPad 4’s Apple A6X CPU has scored only 1776 points.
The RAM is 2 GB, which is better than most of the tablets and smartphones out there today. This also adds to Tablet Z’s performance.
Tablet Z includes a smaller battery of 6000 mAh only. It doesn’t compare well with other tablets in the market, iPad with 11,560 mAh, Google Nexus 10 with 9000 mAh, and Galaxy Note 10.1 with 7000 mAh. However, Sony has an app running on the tablet called Battery STAMINA mode that Sony says will make all the difference.
Sony must have high hopes on the Battery STAMINA to ship such a small battery with such a big tablet. We will get to see how the battery performs once the reviews come up.
The display resolution of Tablet Z is 1920x1200, which at the size of the display gives 224 ppi of pixel density. iPad 4 on the other hand gives 264 ppi, which is better known as Retina Display. In this, Sony tablet is inferior, but the display on Tablet Z uses Sony’s trademarked BRAVIA engine, which is a high performance software renderer that brings out better quality pictures.
These images were found in a Sony blog talking about the BRAVIA engine 2.
In response to Apple’s Retina Display, Sony calls Tablet Z’s display ‘Reality Display’, which according to Engadget is pretty identical.
The same technology comes in other Sony phones as well—Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, etc.
Xperia Z has great connectivity features. It has both LTE and Wi-Fi versions, and LTE supports category 3 with maximum download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. Xperia Tablet Z should be the first tablet to incorporate LTE cat 3 connectivity. It is the same kind of connectivity features available in other major smartphones like iPhone 5, Lumia 920, and Samsung Galaxy S3. None of the other tablets have the connectivity features like Xperia Tablet Z.
Generally, tablets come with only Wi-Fi connectivity, in which you have to connect the tablet to a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot in order to browse the Internet. A few of the tablets also come with data connectivity options like 3G, HSPA+, and LTE. Tablet Z has connectivity features like a smartphone. This is one aspect in which it is different from all of the other tablets.
Besides that, Tablet Z comes with NFC capability. You may have already read about the amazing applications of NFC, which will make this tablet special. Sony ships an app called One-Touch with Tablet Z; using this app, users can transfer media to other Sony devices that support NFC.
Also, it includes an Infrared Blaster, as found in Sony’s own Xperia Tablet S. Hence, controlling Sony’s TVs using Tablet Z as a remote control will not be a problem.
Android Jelly Bean & Multimedia Features
Xperia Tablet Z ships with Android Jelly Bean 4.1 preinstalled. Sony has given confirmation that the tablet will soon receive Jelly Bean 4.2 update. The latest available version of the operating system is 4.2.2 in Google Nexus devices.
Sony enriches the tablet with its own specific apps and multimedia features. Sony has told us the apps like Walkman, Movies, and Album will be available in Tablet Z. There is a feature called Music Unlimited that provides access to over 18 million songs, and another feature called Video Unlimited gives access to over 100,000 movies and TV shows. Integration to Facebook social network is also full-fledged.
Sony ships two cameras with this tablet—main 8 MP and front-facing 2.2 MP. Both cameras are capable of capturing Full HD videos and images at 1080p. Sony has equipped the camera with its own trademarked Exmor R sensor. Exmor R is Sony’s CMOS sensor that makes the camera bring in more light to make the image pretty clear even in dim lit situations. Exmor R is the mobile-friendly version of Exmor, which is the CMOS sensor technology Sony uses on its DSLR cameras.
Remember that Sony Xperia Z smartphone uses a similar sensor known as Exmor RS, which is an upgraded version of Exmor R. Xperia Z smartphone should have slightly better camera performance than Tablet Z. As a side note, you should read about HTC’s One smartphone, in which HTC is coming up with a technology called UltraPixel that will bring in more light to the pictures. Another advanced camera in the mobile world now belongs to Nokia Lumia 920, which has PureView technology and is said to be the best camera in the industry.
There are two storage-based models in Tablet Z—16 GB version and 32 GB version. The price varies accordingly. 16 GB version is priced at 499 dollars, while the 32 GB version comes for 599 dollars, priced exactly like the iPad.
Tablet Z also has a MicroSD slot that can convert the storage to up to 64 GB.
Sony Tablet Z, as far as specifications go, is an amazing tablet. It is priced a little heavily at exactly the same price as Apple iPad. Sony Xperia Tablet Z has a better processor, much better form factor, slightly larger display, better connectivity options, better compatibility, better performance, etc., as compared to Apple iPad. iPad on the other hand has a well-established app ecosystem, much better build quality, and a super-fast operating system that works really well with its hardware.
We will have to actually see Tablet Z in action before we can make a decision. For the time being, our recommendation is to wait till the device comes to the market (expected around ) and gets reviewed before making a purchase decision. We actually need to analyze these key areas—battery, camera, display, and performance. If they are also stunning, Xperia Z will be a really good tablet to buy.
[Image: Statista, Gizmag, Digitalversus]