Review Price £399.99
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet Review: First Impressions
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet: Anorexia in tablet form?The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet is Sony's top-end Android tablet for 2014. In many ways it's desperately similar to the Xperia Tablet Z from 2013. The style, the priorites and many of the specs are familiar.
However, this new model is even thinner and lighter. Its fixation on being the thinnest and lightest tablet around is supermodel-grade stuff. However, there are benefits to its 'size 0' obsession.
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet – Design and StyleSony started its love affair with super-slim tablets back in 2013. The Tablet Z was the thinnest and lightest 10-inch tablet we had seen, and that it didn't flex like a piece of paper was in itself impressive.
The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet takes things to the next level. It's 6.8mm thick and weighs just 426g. That's around 70g lighter than the last model, 30g or so lighter than the iPad Air, and about 2mm thinner than many of the thinnest phones. The first question that popped into my head on hearing these specs was "how?".
Sony has stripped away some of the design gloss of the last model to make the Z2 Tablet as thin and light as possible. Where the last tablet has a glass-topped back, much like the Z-series phones, the Z2 Tablet's rear is plastic. There's some minor texturing to avoid it feeling too much like an ultra-budget Android tablet, but the in-hand experience is frankly a bit weird.
This is a 10-inch tablet that weighs as much as a 7-inch one. Its lightness is unnerving. But given its weight, build is surprisingly good. There's naturally some mild flex, but like the Xperia Z Tablet it could have been so much worse. There's clearly some sort of metal cage inside keeping the tablet fairly rigid.
We often talk about whether a tablet is light enough to use one-handed, and the Xperia Z2 Tablet certainly is. However, the weight distribution makes it feel less at home in a single paw than a 7-inch tablet. This is where the 'bit weird' in-hand feel comes from.
Fingers crossed we get used to it when we spend some more time with it at review.
Like so many of Sony's other top-end Android devices, the Xperia Z2 uses flaps that cover its ports for water and dust protection. You can dunk it under water, you can drop it into a mountain of belly button fluff and it will emerge unhurt. Of course, there's only really one good use for tablet waterproofing – a level of insurance should you use it to watch Netflix in the bath.
The covered ports include a memory card slot, the microUSB charge socket and a SIM slot (in the 4G model). In the model we saw, they weren't finished particularly well – something I hope Sony is going to tweak before the Z2 Tablet hits shelves. As is common with tablets that have memory card slots, internal memory is kept fairly conservative at 16GB.
The dock port on the bottom is a bit less common. It's a pair of metal contacts that lets the tablet plug into accessories like Sony's keyboard and charge docks. These open up the tablet for longer-form writing (ie work) and for use as more of a home entertainment device. There's also an IR transmitter on top that'll let you use it as a remote control for things like home cinema receivers and TVs.
A tablet so thin it has to be kept on a life support machine (not really, it's just a tech show tether)
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet – Screen and SpecsSpecs-wise the Xperia Z2 Tablet's screen is very similar to the last model. It has a Full HD screen, using an IPS-style LCD panel.
We'll look more into screen quality in our full review. But it comes off pretty well on first impressions. It's bright, it's colourful, it's fairly sharp.
As usual, Sony is keen to talk about the Triluminous technology that goes into these screens, but it doesn't appear to be fundamentally better than other top-end tablets.
Other specs are also on-par with the new 2014 mobile competition. It has a Snapdragon 801 CPU, a quad-core 2.3GHz chip. This is only a small step on from the Snapdragon 800, and is clearly a chipset made so that today's new phones and tablets can have something new to rave about. It's pretty uninspiring stuff.
However, it still has plenty of power – enough to make Sony's custom take on Android run smoothly.
As usual, the Sony UI doesn't dramatically alter what Android's like, but does tweak the look and add some media and social networking features. I've never been a huge fan of the Sony interface look, and we're yet to see a 10-inch tablet on which Android feels truly at home, but Sony plugs away regardless.
I'd much rather see what Sony's design team could do with the 7-inch tablet form and the sort of budget that goes behind flagship tablets like the Z2. However, Sony has certainly not dropped the ball with this one. It is just a bit too similar to the last model to be hugely interesting to gadget fans.
Next, read our round-up of the best tablets