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MWC 2013: Hands-on with Sony's Xperia Tablet Z

Is Sony about to steal the tablet limelight?

Sony Xperia Tablet Z Android, thumbnail 1
After Sony teased everyone with the PS4 console 'launch that wasn't' last Wednesday, we were quite disappointed to learn that the Japanese tech titan wasn't going to announce any new smartphones at Mobile World Congress.

Instead, Sony simply showed off its Xperia Z smartphone again. Presumably for the benefit of those who didn't attend CES in January. Oh, and Sony talked about its vision for 2013.

Even the announcement of the Xperia Tablet Z came with a small caveat - the device was unveiled in Japan last month.

All of this was enough to leave me wondering why Sony had bothered to hold a press conference at all.

From a distance, the Xperia Tablet Z just looked like yet another black slab. How wrong was I. You see, I didn't quite realise how impressive the Tablet Z was until I saw one in the flesh.

Put simply, the Xperia Tablet Z is a 'wow' device. You pick one up, you're impressed. That simple. Even if you're a hardcore iPad fan that takes great pleasure in knowing that the Android OS is still some way off providing a similar tablet-optimised experience as Apple's touchscreen tab.

The Xperia Tablet Z is not only the slimmest tablet on the market (although that may change between now and its May release), but it's also water and dust resistant. It's light, too, and sports a 1920x1200 display that looks like it is floating on the glass.

Despite a thin shell, everything is rock solid - there was no flexing (and I did try) or creaking. The only thing that might damage the tablet is a high fall onto a hard surface. But that'd be probably be a problem for most things.

In terms of protecting the Xperia Tablet Z and augmenting the experience, Sony is showing off a range of third-party accessories for its new tab, including docks, stands, protective casings, and Bluetooth keyboards.

Sony has included an 8-megapixel Exmor R image sensor in its Xperia Tablet Z, allowing you to take high-quality photos and shoot full HD video.

Of course, that still won't stop you from looking stupid if you do try and use it as your main camera.


Sony is keeping its cards relatively close to its chest regarding its future plans for PlayStation Mobile and how closely the forthcoming PS4 will be integrated into this service. Well, beyond confirming that there will be a PS4 companion app for both Android and iOS devices.

I was, however, able to see a few games running on the Xperia Tablet Z, including The Dark Knight Rises, Virtua Tennis Challenge, and Cordy 2.

You can also connect a PS3 wireless controller without any fuss to the Xperia Tablet Z, with an MHL connector also letting you output to a TV.

The Xperia Tablet Z also ships with NFC support, meaning you can share pictures, music, and video with the latest generation of Sony's Bravia televisions by just tapping your tablet against the TV.

I must say, by the way, that photos of the Xperia Tablet just can't do it justice. Take my advice: go check one out when it goes on sale in May and feel how nice it is in the hand for yourself. This tablet is one seriously sexy bit of kit. Sure, that's a subjective comment, but I can't imagine many people will disagree with me.

Sony is also releasing a white version of the Xperia Tablet Z, though the Japanese firm is, perhaps wisely, not going to offer a load of variants this time around. So, you'll be able to get an Xperia Tablet Z with 16GB of internal memory and a card slot that can take cards of up to 64GB (and higher when they become available).

Besides the colour, you have one other choice to make: wi-fi only or wi-fi + 4G LTE. Pricing for the Xperia Tablet Z has yet to be announced, but it's quite obvious that Sony won't be targeting people who might want a Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD with this new high-end slate.

If anyone ever thought that Google would kill the Android tablet market with its low-cost, high-performance Nexus range, Sony is seemingly out to prove there's still a market for a premium 'droid tablet.

Reviewer photo
Jonathan Morris 26 February 2013
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