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Pint-sized (near) perfection: Sony’s Xperia Z3 Compact Tablet reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 3:40 pm 03/12/2014

We’ve seen some solid word from Sony this year in its Xperia phones, and now it’s time to see what happens when it applies that template to a tablet.

Features

The last product in Sony’s Xperia Z3 range isn’t a phone, but rather a tablet, and in the last month of 2014, Australia gets to see the product for itself, as we take the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact for a spin.

First thing’s first, there’s the screen, which is generally seen as the most prominent part of a tablet, and here Sony is relying on an 8 inch 1920×1200 Full HD display, taking advantage of Int-Plane Switching (IPS) technology and using Sony’s Triluminous colour technology.

Under that, you’ll find a smattering of technology that Sony has not only shown us before, it has shown us in very recent Sony phones.

Apologies ahead of time if it sounds like were reading the spec list of the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact, but Sony has basically kept things the same, including Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5GHz, 3GB RAM, 16GB storage, and a microSD slot to expand that last section if you ever run out of space.

As expected, Google’s reasonably recent “KitKat” version of Android runs here, with Android 4.4 appearing on the tablet out of the box.

Over in the multimedia department, you’ll find two front-facing speakers etched into the body above the bezels surrounding the screen, with a 2.2 megapixel camera found on the front and an 8 megapixel shooter on the back.

Connections for the tablet include 802.11ac WiFi with backwards compatibility for 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Near-Field Communication (NFC), DLNA, and Miracast rounding out the wireless specs, with wired handled through a microUSB port supporting MHL3 and USB on-the-go (OTG).

Ports aren’t typically high in number on Android tablets, and Sony keeps that area unsurprising, with a covered microUSB port, uncovered Sony’s proprietary magnetic dock (left side), and an uncovered 3.5mm headset jack (right) with support for Sony’s noise cancelling headphones.

Depending on the model you get, you’ll find either one or two slots, with a microSD slot for expanding the memory found under the door on the right side, and possibly a nanoSIM slot for providing mobile data as well as mobile phone calls.

The battery is built into the body of the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (not removable), and is rated at 4500mAh.

Performance

We’ll talk about what we like first, and there’s a fair amount of that, starting with the feel.

Yes, Sony has been on a roll this year with its monolithic design, taking what we’ve seen in the Xperia Z and Z1 smartphones and pushing it to the Z2 smartphone and tablet earlier in the year, and now at the back half refining it for the Z3 range of products.

We’ve seen the 5 inch Xperia Z3 and the 4.6 inch Xperia Z3 Compact feature this design already in the past couple of months, and now it’s time to see what it looks like on a tablet as Sony pushes it to an 8 inch tablet.

And basically, if you liked how it looks on the phone, you’ll love it on the tablet, as it works brilliantly here, too.

Sony’s design is simple, basic, and very minimalist, but it works a treat providing something that is barely noticeable in the hands at 270 grams, feeling more like a few pieces of cardboard whacked together with a clear screen on top and a slightly textured bit of plastic underneath.

Gone are our worries that a Sony device is slippery, a claim we made with both the Z3 and Z3 Compact smartphones, devices that relied heavily on glass as the rear material and made for something a little slippery.

Instead, the Tablet Compact is comfortable in one hand or two, and feels like a quality product thanks to the sides which are framed in aluminium, with the glass keeping everything else solid up front.

That weight is pretty special, too, beating out Apple’s iPad Mini 3 at 331 and 341 grams (WiFi and WiFi/4G), and besting Samsung’s 8 inch Galaxy Tab S which hits 298 grams itself.

This is a combination that works, and it’s one that continues when you switch the tablet on, as Android 4.4 “KitKat” comes to life underneath a Sony overlay, with a Full HD 1920×1200 8 inch IPS screen bringing it all to life.

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Price (RRP)

$499

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Beautifully designed and weighted; Well-performing specs; Expandable memory is a definite plus; Excellent screen with solid viewing angles; Supports high-res audio like its phone brothers; If you own a PS4, you can play it over your home network with the Xperia Z3 Compact Tablet; Highly water-resistant; Decent battery life; Models may include built-in 4G;

Product Cons

No infrared like its smartphone siblings, and it would be a lot more handy here; Rear camera should have a flash;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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