Sony Xperia Tablet Z - The World's Thinnest Tablet

Launch SRP: S$988

Performance & Conclusion

Performance

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is one of the first tablets on the market to use Qualcomm’s 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with 2GB of RAM making it one of the more powerful tablets currently available.

We will be pitting the Tablet Z up against a few of the most popular 10-inch choices out there, including Apple's iPad (4th Gen), Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1, and Toshiba's Regza Tablet AT300. We'll also see how it fares against Sony's previous tablet, the Xperia Tablet S.

The following benchmarks were used for raw performance evaluation:

  • Quadrant evaluates the CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performance. This is an Android OS based test.
  • Smartbench 2012 is a multi-core friendly benchmark application that includes both the Productivity and Gaming indices for a more complete gauge of the overall performance of Android tablets.
  • SunSpider Javascript benchmark measures the browsing performance of the tablet and runs on any platform.

 

Test Tablets Compared
  Sony Xperia Tablet Z Sony Xperia Tablet S Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Toshiba Regza Tablet AT300 Apple iPad (4th Gen)
Display 10.1-inch LCD 9.4-inch LCD 10.1-inch LCD 10.1-inch LCD 9.7-inch LCD
Resolution 1920 x 1200 pixels 1280 x 800 pixels 1280 x 800 pixels  1280 x 800 pixels  2048 x 1536 pxiels
OS Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (at launch) Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich Apple iOS 6
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.4GHz Exynos 4 Quad quad-core 1.4GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.2GHz Apple A6X dual-core 1GHz
RAM 2GB 1GB 2GB 1GB 1GB
Storage 16/32GB
(microSD support up to 64GB)
16GB
(microSD support up to 128GB)
16GB
(microSD support up to 32GB)
32GB
(microSD support up to 128GB)
16/32/64/128GB
Front Camera 2.2MP 1MP 1.9MP 2MP 1.2MP
Rear Camera 8.1MP autofocus 8MP autofocus 5MP autofocus 5MP autofocus 5MP autofocus
Battery 6000mAh 6000mAh 7000mAh 6600mAh 11560mAh
Dimensions 266 x 172 x 6.9mm 239.8 x 174.4 x 8.8 - 11.85mm 262 x 180 x 8.9mm 260 x 178.9 x 9.0mm 241.2 x 185.7 x 9.41mm
Weight 495g 585g 600g 595g 662g

 

 

Quadrant Results

Quadrant evaluates a device's CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performance. The Xperia Tablet Z got off to a great start here, massively outperforming the rest of the field, outscoring Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 by a huge 45%.

 

Smartbench 2012 Results

Smartbench 2012 is a multi-core friendly benchmark application that includes both the Productivity and Gaming indices. Surprisingly, while the Xperia Tablet Z once again led the competition on the Productivity test, it was the worst when it came to Gaming. 

 

Sunspider Javascript Results

SunSpider Javascript measures the browsing performance of a device. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is at delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. The Xperia Tablet Z performed quite badly in this test, and was outclassed by every other tablet, including the older Xperia Tablet S.

Having said that, in our actual usage with the Xperia Tablet Z, we didn't encounter any problems or sluggishness, and web browsing was responsive and fast. 

 

Multimedia Performance

As previously mentioned, the Xperia Tablet Z uses a 1920 x 1200 pixel LCD display with a pixel density of 224 ppi. Contrast was good, and colors were vivid and bright, but tended slightly towards warm. Viewing angles were not fantastic, but significantly better than those on the Xperia Z smartphone.

With a pixel density of 224 ppi, sharpness is more than sufficient. When scrutinized very closely next to Apple's iPad (4th Gen) (264 ppi), you may notice the Xperia Tablet Z to be slightly inferior, however, in general usage, the difference is negligible.

The Xperia Tablet Z is fitted with an 8.1-megapixel rear camera and a 2.2-megapixel front facing camera. Strangely enough, unlike the Xperia Z smartphone, there is no LED flash on the Xperia Tablet Z.

 

Battery Performance

The last benchmark is the battery performance section, where we will evaluate the Xperia Tablet Z through our standard battery test which includes:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter.

Battery life on the Xperia Tablet Z was quite poor, lasting just 4 hours and 5 minutes, much less than Sony's previous effort, the Xperia Tablet S, which lasted over 6 hours. Having said that, this wasn't entirely unexpected, as the Xperia Tablet Z has the lowest battery capacity out of all of our 10-inch tablets (the Xperia Tablet S also has a 6000mAh battery, but has much better power consumption due to its smaller and lower resolution screen and weaker processor).

Power consumption on the Xperia Tablet Z was higher than its predecessor due to its fairly bright 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution display and powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5GHz processor. Comparatively, the fourth generation Apple iPad raked in even higher power consumption but was suitably compensated by a much higher capacity battery pack. As such, the power consumption is actually in-line with the device's capabilities and Sony had to make-do with lower battery life as a trade off to its extremely slim and lightweight design. Do those characteristics pay off? We tell you in the following section on portability.


Portability

We measure the portability of a device by calculating its battery life to (weight x volume) ratio. Despite its rather lacking battery life, the Xperia Tablet Z is saved thanks to its ultra-thin form factor and very light weight, which gives it an excellent portability score - which ranked even better than the Apple iPad (4th Gen.). 

In our daily experience with the Xperia Tablet Z, we certainly appreciated its thin build and light weight, making it very easy to hold onto one-handed while on a busy commuter train. We would go as far as to say that the extremely light weight of the device even felt liberating compared to handling other tablets of this form factor.

 

Conclusion

The Xperia Tablet Z is certainly Sony's best tablet to date, and arguably could be in the running for best Android tablet yet. We loved the lightweight, ultra thin, minimalist form factor, and the display, while not the absolute best out there, boasts excellent image quality too.

Pricing on the Xperia Tablet Z is quite competitive, especially for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, which is just S$688. Incredibly, Sony is charging S$300 more for the 16GB 4G LTE model that's reviewed here, so we don't recommend this version.

Still, a few things keep the Xperia Tablet Z from attaining a higher score. Audio quality, even by the low standards of tablet audio, was quite poor, which wasn't helped by the unfortunate placement of the speakers right where most people are likely to hold the tablet. Image quality from the camera was also not the best, and the lack of an LED flash makes the camera unusable in low light conditions.

Even if we overlook its camera limitation, test performance wasn't outstanding either. The Xperia Tablet Z didn't really live up to the potential of its Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5GHz processor, which might suggest that Sony hasn't done a great job optimizing the tablet - although future software updates could change this.

Finally, battery life was very poor compared to other 10-inch tablets. For a device with portability in mind, having it die on you halfway through the day is obviously a big drawback.

Still, Sony should be commended for offering a unique proposition in a sea of generic Android tablets - making a device that is ultra thin AND waterproof is no small feat, and if either of those qualities are important to you, there's really no better choice than the Xperia Tablet Z. You just have to face the fact that you can't have both of them and expect double the battery life too - at least not at this point in time.

8.0
Design
9.5
Features
8
User-Friendliness
8.5
Performance
7
Value
7
The Good
Sleek, ultra thin design
Extrmely lightweight
IP57 rating - Dust resistant and waterproof
Decent display with good contrast and vivid colors
The Bad
Below average battery life
Poor audio quality
No LED flash
Performance could be better
LTE edition is very expensive