Sony’s take on the tablet world has never been to clone products made by anyone else, and its new tablet for 2014 proves this by evolving last year’s Tablet Z by making it better than ever, with a thin, light, and element resistant product. Is it worth your time?
Tablets these days tend to echo their smartphone siblings, and this year in the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet, that’s still true.
For Sony’s 2014 tablet, the company is borrowing the same formula it expects will be successful in its Xperia Z2 smartphone, including the use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz and working alongside the Adreno 330 graphics chip.
Those are the same base specs used in both Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and HTC’s 2014 One (M8), as well as the Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone, so we’re expecting good things here.
They’ll work with 3GB RAM (which appears to be the sweet spot for Android devices) and either 16 or 32GB of storage, with room for more with the microSD slot at the top.
Google’s Android 4.4 “KitKat” also runs on this tablet out of the box, with Sony’s own overlay here providing an experience similar in look to what you find on the PlayStation 3 and Bravia products.
Connections are all pretty standard for a flagship device in 2014, with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 with support for A2DP, Near-Field Communication (NFC), and even infrared at the top for controlling your TV. A cellular version of the tablet also includes these features, as well as support for 3G and 4G mobile networks.
Wired connections are few, with pretty much just microUSB hidden under a flap up top next to the infrared port, though Sony’s proprietary accessory connector is also found at the base of the unit.
There’s even a camera or two here, with an 8 megapixel shooter on the back and a 2.2 megapixel camera up front, both capable of recording Full HD 1080p videos, though no 4K video capture can be found in this model like it can on the Xperia Z2 smartphone.
There are only two physical buttons on the device, with a circular power button and volume rocker both found on the left-most edge. All other buttons are found in software, with Sony relying on modern Android’s on-screen soft buttons.
Ports for the Z2 Tablet include the microSD under a flap up top next to the microUSB port, also hidden under a flap, while owners of the 4G LTE model will also sport a microSIM in the same space as where the microSD normally goes. Try not to get them confused.
The battery is built into the unit and rated at 6000mAh.
Sony has included some interesting features into the latest tablet with a model it hopes to wow the pants off anyone keen to see something different take on the tablet everyone takes on, the Apple iPar Air.
So what’s it like?
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Tablet Z2 is its weight, because wow, seriously: wow.
It’s taken a few years of producing some interesting concepts, but Sony has nailed the balance in this tablet, with a 10.1 inch horizontal-preferred tablet that manages to feel oh so comfortable in the hands, with a pretty even balance across the board.
We say “pretty even” because it’s clear there’s a little more weight inching towards the bottom of the device, but it doesn’t matter, because however you hold this, the 439 gram weight is clear and Sony’s design is solid.
It even weighs less than Apple’s feather-light iPad Air, sacrificing 30 grams. Impressive.
Unlike the iPad, you won’t see metal casing here, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Rather, Sony’s reliance on plastic in this tablet feels right, and while we normally prefer the high-grade metals in our devices, the choice of a matte plastic that’s also soft to the touch works wonders in the Xperia Z2 Tablet.
This is partnered with the big sheet of glass up front protecting the 10 inch screen, with nothing more than a “Sony” brand printed up top, making the tablet look clean and simple, aside for some brushed metal sides that provide some nice accenting trim for the Z2 tablet.
Along the left side, you’ll find two buttons for controlling the tablet — a circular button for power and a volume rocker beneath it — and really, they’re all the control you have as far as physical buttons go, because Sony is using Google’s on-screen soft buttons for everything else.