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Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Hands-on

Sony has followed in the footsteps of Apple. After of couple of years of churning out impressive near 10-inch tablets, the manufacturer has moved to the more portable end of the tablet space. Enter the 8-inch Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, a direct rival to the iPad Mini and Google Nexus 7.

Longwinded name aside, this is a reasonably impressive offering. A sleek, stylish body belies a veritable feast of high-end components. That said, this tablet is hardly breaking new ground. A Full HD display joins a quad-core CPU and an 8-megapixel rear-mounted camera on the strong specs sheet.

Appearing to tow the lines without pushing the boundaries, we have gone hands-on with the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact to see if Apple should be worried about its tablet mantle.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Design

First things first, the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is tiny. Not necessarily in overall stature, but certainly in thickness. Weighing in at just 270g, the device is a mere 6.4mm thin. As such this is a tablet which could easily accompany you on your daily life without being a burden.

With a plastic build, this slight nature runs the risk of feeling cheap and flimsy. Fortunately, based on our early look, Sony appears to have fallen just on the right side of this treacherous balance beam. The matt plastic rear of the Z3 Tablet Compact offers sufficient amounts of grip without feeling cheap or low quality. It is, however, a material prone to scratching and this could age the device quickly.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Despite its super slim nature, the tablet never feels fragile or brittle. Metal edging gives the Z3 Tablet Compact an air of high-end appeal and helps bolster the device’s build quality.

Still a long stretch from the brushed metal delights of the iPad mini, visually the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact certainly holds its own against the Nexus 7 and the premium Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4.

Sony’s proprietary charging port on the tablet’s side does detract slightly from the device’s visual appeal, but overall Sony seems to be on to something of a winner.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Screen

The Xperia Z3 smartphone has played its safe of the screen front, and so too has the Z3 Tablet Compact. Overlooking a higher resolution panel, the tablet has adopted a 1920 x 1080p Full HD 8-inch display. With impressive visuals offered, this is far from a disappointing, if not slightly unambitious addition.

The screen is extremely bright and allows largely impressive, sharp visuals. It is far from the best we have seen on such a device, however. The iPad Mini’s Retina display is superior, as is the stunning 2560 x 1600p Super AMOLED offering found on the Tab S.

Playing back HD video, we did notice a little motion lag creeping into the mix. Further testing is required in our upcoming full review of the Z3 Tablet Compact, however, before we pass any damning judgements.

Capable of diffusing glare in bright, direct sunlight, the Tablet Compact’s screen was highly responsive during early tests. It swiftly skipped through menu screens and effortlessly handled all manner of multi-finger gesture controls.

Although Sony’s is bragging about an anti-fingerprint coating featuring on the Z3 Tablet Compact’s screen, as tends to be the case with these things, the device was smeared in grimy finger marks after just a few minutes’ use.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Features and Camera

Despite some screen-based shortcomings, power is not an issue for the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. The device runs the same 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset as the company’s flagship phone. The result is oodles of grunt and impressive battery management.

Zipping through app launches and multi-tasking commands without flinching, the Z3 Tablet Compact is further enhanced by the addition of 3GB of RAM. On the capacity front, 16GB of integrated storage can be bolstered to a massive 128GB with the use of a microSD card.

Like its smartphone sibling, the Z3 Tablet Compact’s audio abilities are a little off the mark. Output felt a little distant and hollow during our early play with the device. This could perhaps be a result of the stylishly skinny form factor.

Tablet cameras are never great but it seems consumers continue to demand them and manufacturers are forced to respond. True to form, the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact’s camera falls a little short of the mark on first use.

Early shots – admittedly in less than ideal lighting conditions – were noisy, with this unwanted interference causing some very notable graining and lack of sharpness to shots. We will further test this feature during our upcoming full review of the Z3 Tablet Compact.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Software

Powered by Google’s latest Android 4.4 KitKat OS, the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact features Sony’s traditional skin and some of the same software enhancements as its new smartphone siblings, the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact.

One of the device’s killer features is its gaming credentials. Forget Angry Birds, Real Racing and the usual mobile gaming fodder, the Z3 Tablet is capable of playing PS4 games. Before you get too excited, this isn’t some miracle device, you will still need to own a PS4 in the first place to make use of the tablet’s Remote Play features.

Like with the PS Vita, the Z3 Tablet Compact can be connected to your PS4 over Wi-Fi, with gamers unable to access their home TV able to use the tablet as a substitute screen for high-end gaming. There are, as you would expect, a number of connectivity restrictions to this feature, but it is still one which impresses from the off. There is even a new PS4 DualShock 4 controller mount for easier gaming on-the-go.

Stay tuned for our full Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review coming soon for a more in-depth look at the device’s PS4 gaming credentials.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

First Impressions

A strong first attempt at tackling the 8-inch tablet space, the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact just comes up slightly short in a number of key areas. With a marginally better screen, improved camera and rejigged audio Sony could give Apple some concern. As it is, however, based on first use we would say the company is readying another also ran for market – albeit a very impressive one.

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