Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
4th Apr 2014 | 15:28
A great tablet that still struggles to have a standout selling point
Hands on Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review
Something odd happens when you try to get to the heart of a tablet when you only get to play with it for half an hour - while the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet looks great on paper, it's really hard to work out if it's actually any good.
The fact is the Tablet Z (seriously Sony, why did you have to change the order of the name? I understand it's more in keeping with the Xperia family, but now I keep having to go back and re-order it every time I mention it) was a great device and one that it would have been hard pressed to improve quickly.
We're a year on and the sequel is upon us: the Xperia Z2 Tablet is a strong device featuring the best that Sony has to offer.
The Live Colour screen, the improved speakers, the uprated Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU and the same whopping 3GB of RAM that the Xperia Z2 smartphone is packing.
On top of that, the thing is still waterproof (but has the helpful open headphone jack so another annoying cover is lost) and lighter too - at 426g it's really rather impressive.
There are covers over the microUSB and microSD slots, with the former a little annoying if you're regularly charging the Z2 Tablet, but at least they are easy to remove.
The 6.4mm thickness is also class-leading... but, like the heft of thing, it's hard to feel that things have moved on much.
The reason for that is simple: the last tablet was fast, slim and didn't strain the wrist. Compared side by side with the new Xperia Z2 Tablet, there's very little difference.
Round the back the tablet is still noticeably plastic, which detracts from the premium price tag the Xperia Z2 Tablet is flaunting, and the level of flex in the frame when pressure is applied is a little disconcerting.
Apply a little too much pressure here and you may find yourself with a snapped slate.
The screen is still 10.1 inches, and the resolution a now so-so 1920 x 1200, compared to the much sharper iPad Air.
The resolution shouldn't be a problem though. It's HD packed into a 10-inch frame, which is more than enough given you hold it further from your face than a smartphone.
So it shouldn't really matter - but it will matter to the buying public, especially when Samsung is touting a higher-res display in a phone that will cost roughly the same as the Wi-Fi version of this product.
The spec list is great and things have been improved once more on the functionality front. The improved processor and RAM allowance means that gaming in particular will be improved, and streaming from the tablet to the TV will likely be a much nicer experience, although we haven't had the chance to test that yet.
On top of that, the Live Colour system that really impressed me on the Z2 is on offer here as well. It's quite similar to Super AMOLED, in my opinion.
Sony subtley tried to say that this was making LCD a little closer to Samsung's technology but without making the colours look so over the top. I don't think that's the case at all.
Either way, the Live Colour system gives you the feeling that watching movies on this thing will be a real treat - it makes colours really pop.
To that end, Sony has got another thing right: putting powerful and front-facing stereo speakers on the Z2 Tablet. Understated while packing a decent amount of punch, there's a lot to impress here when watching a film.
But how can you say that this is an improvement on the original? It's a debate that's going to run and run in 2014, as smartphones and tablets have increased to the point of diminishing returns when it comes to power - with this much grunt on offer, there's very little that this tablet can't do.
That was the same with the predecessor, and until consumers find new ways to use their tablets then this seems to be specs for the sake of keeping relevant in the race.
Sure, it will probably have a benefit when it comes to battery life, and there's a carry case that allows you to add in a Bluetooth keyboard. But apart from the Live Colour screen, there's very little reason to recommend this tablet over the predecessor - and yet it's still a really impressively strong device.
If the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet has taken your fancy Sony has it on pre-order in black or white at £449 (around $745, AU$800) for the Wi-Fi only, 32GB version and £399 (around $660, AU$710) for 16GB of internal storage. In terms of a Xperia Z2 Tablet release date Sony is quoting April 14.
The LTE enabled model only gives with a 16GB option and is listed at £499 (around $830, AU$890), with stock expected a little later on April 18.
Apple didn't need to add much to the iPad Air, and proved the case with a slightly improved processor and an overhaul on the design front.
Sony had already overachieved on that front in 2013, so the sequel was never going to scale the same heights. However, it's still a really great tablet, shaving weight off to make it feel nicer in the hand and giving the upgraded CPU that will keep the spec-heads happy.
Is it worth the higher price that it will command when the prequel is going to be much cheaper? It's hard to say yes from a purely fiscal standpoint - but there's enough in terms of design, technology and power here to say it will probably be the most impressive tablet on show at MWC 2014.