Thin and light is the name of the game for tablets these days, and Sony’s next offering will be a full-size Android model that nevertheless manages to be super thin and ultra light.
Prototypes of the Xperia Z4 Tablet were on display at Mobile World Congress, and we got some hands-on time.
Build & Design
The Apple iPad Air 2 set the design standard that rivals have to work hard to match. The Z4 Tablet nails it: The device will be just 0.24 inches (6.1 mm) thick and 0.86 lbs. (389g), making it the same thickness as Apple’s flagship tablet and lower in weight.
It comes in lighter than the iPad Air 2 because Sony went for an all-plastic casing, not a metal one. This means that while the Z4 Tablet has a professional look, it doesn’t appear as polished as it could be. That said, it certainly feels light – noticeably lighter than the latest iPad.
It has an IP68 certification, which means it is both dustproof and waterproof, to the point where it can be submerged for up to 30 minutes in 1.5m of fresh water.
The Z4 Tablet will have a 10.1inch IPS display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels (WQXGA), giving it a high pixel density of 300ppi. It will include Sony’s Triluminos technology, and the company says it is 40% brighter than its predecessor.
It is difficult to truly evaluate a display in a preliminary review – there’s no way to test it in sunlight, for example — but early impressions are that this screen will be outstanding.
Speakers and Headphones
Stereo speakers will be integrated into this device, as they are into many tablets. A feature somewhat unique to the Z4 Tablet will be technology to make ordinary headphones into noise-canceling ones.
Sony recently sold off its Vaio line of Windows laptops, but is apparently intending to replace it with Xperia tablets, so the company will offer an optional clip-on keyboard for its upcoming flagship device. Prototypes of this accessory on display at MWC give the impression that Sony sacrificed quality for light weight – the keys on the BKB50 have a distinctly cheap feel, not what one expects from Sony.
Still, the inclusion of a touchpad and support for multiple viewing angles are positive design aspects.
The price for this item has not yet been announced, and it is scheduled to launch at the same time as this tablet.
The Xperia Z4 Tablet will use a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core 64-bit processor that sports four 2.0GHz Cortex-A57 cores as well as four 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 cores. The GPU will be an Adreno 430, and Sony is including 3 GB of RAM.
There will be 32 GB of internal storage, plus a microSD memory card slot to add an additional 128 GB of capacity.
It is too early to be able to say what real-world performance of the Z4 Tablet will be, but preliminary testing of prototypes found the device to be very snappy, with no lags or slow-downs.
This model will debut with Android 5.0 Lollipop, the latest version of Google’s mobile OS.
The keyboard isn’t the only way Sony is targeting the Z4 Tablet at typical laptop fans: There’s app launcher in the lower-left corner of the main screen that should be very familiar to Windows users.
In addition, this device will also come pre-loaded with the recently-released Microsoft Office for Android Tablet.
The Z4 Tablet will support Wi-Fi MIMO, a dual-antenna system that speeds up wireless access. In addition to a WiFi-only version, Sony intends to offer 3G and 4G LTE ones.
This slate will include NFC as well.
The rear-facing camera will have an 8.1 MP resolution and image stabilization, while the front-facing one will have a 5 MP resolution.
The Z4 Tablet will employ a 6,000 mAh battery, and Sony promises this device will be good for 17 hours on video playback. Only a full review can confirm this, however.
Previous Xperia tablets have primarily been marketed as entertainment devices that are tied into Sony’s movie and music ecosystems, and the Z4 Tablet will be too, but it will have a strong productivity component as well. The company avoided this before to prevent its tablets from cannibalizing laptop sales, but times have changed in the wake of the sale of the Vaio line.
However, only time will tell if Vaio fans will be willing to switch to an Android-powered tablet-and-keyboard combination instead.
The Xperia Tablet Z4 is scheduled to be released in June, but pricing has not yet been announced.