The tablet market is busier than it's ever been, but Sony's Xperia Tablet Z, with its waterproofing, minimalist design and super-slim frame, always felt like a unique prospect. While the impact of the Xperia Z2 Tablet is lessened by familiarity with its excellent predecessor, it's still looking like a very impressive slate.
Slimmer still at 6.4mm thick compared to its 6.9mm older brother, the 10.1-inch tablet looks absolutely gorgeous. Angular, with a polycarbonate build, you can balance it one handed with ease thanks to the Wi-Fi version's 426g weight (that goes up to 439g for the LTE/3G edition). That's lighter than even the 469g Wi-Fi iPad Air, itself no chubster. That's not to say it's as comfortable to hold as Apple's device though — the Tablet Z2 is easy on the eye, but its harsh lines make it a little tough to grip.
Regardless of its sharp edges it is a beauty, no doubt about it, and its Full HD display goes some way towards building that attraction. It's using the same Triluminous display technology that you'd find in the company's TV sets, offering up rich (arguably over-saturated) colours. Viewing angles are wide enough for a group of people to view content without a massive drop-off in contrast, while brightness levels were strong enough to fend off even the harsh lighting of the demo room. It still suffered from glare quite a bit when taken out into sunlight, but aside from e-Ink Kindles, that's a problem faced by most screens.
If you're the kind that likes to use a tablet as a camera, well, you're an idiot. But if you insist, you could do a lot worse than the Z2 Tablet. Fitted with an 8.1MP rear-facing camera, its HDR shots looked decent enough from my few quick snaps, being reasonably detailed and with good contrast levels.
It's all being powered by a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, clocked at 2.3GHz and backed by 3GB of RAM. It allowed the tablet to fly through anything I threw at it, including intensive gaming apps. 4G connectivity is also included. As for battery life, Sony is quoting 10 hours of "multimedia usage" and 100 hours of music playback from a single charge of the Tablet Z2's 6000mAh battery, but it'll take a proper review to test those claims.
Sony's also got a tonne of accessories lined up to go with the Z2 Tablet, everything from the BRH10 Bluetooth remote control (which doubles up as a mini handset if you decide to use the tablet's call-making functions) to the block-like BSC10 Bluetooth Speaker dock, which also comes equipped with a magnetic charging pad.
If you've business to attend to, Sony will be hoping that you splash the cash on the BKC50BT Bluetooth Keyboard and Tablet Cover Stand with NFC pairing, a slimline keyboard similar to the Surface's Touch Cover. With OfficeSuite Pro 7 pre-installed, Sony is definitely anticipating this being more than just a slate for sending Doge memes to Facebook pals with. Hooking up a PlayStation 3's DualShock 3 controller over Bluetooth will also allow you to play some games with proper physical controls, and we're told that pretty much everything bought from the PlayStation Mobile store should work with it (and, hopefully, PlayStation Now if it's ever launched in the UK).
Just as with the Xperia Z2 smartphone, Sony will be looking to lure its tablet owners towards the company's own entertainment stores with a number of freebies. The Xperia Z2 Tablet will come with a choice of six digital movie downloads from Sony Pictures studios through the Video Unlimited platform, while a 30 day free pass to Sony's Music Unlimited streaming service is also in the box.
Available in black or white, Sony will launch the Xperia Z2 Tablet globally from March. There's no pricing set yet, but as a rough guide, note that the Tablet Z launched at around the £450 mark. Don't expect this to land much cheaper.
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