Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet review

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Sony’s done it again, announcing the world’s thinnest, lightest 10in Android tablet at this year’s MWC show in Barcelona. Weighing just 392g, the Xperia Z4 Tablet is 45g lighter than Apple’s 437giPad Air 2 (or 48g lighter if you opt for the 396g 3G/4G model), making it one of the most comfortable, featherweight tablets we’ve ever held. It’s just as slim, too, measuring a mere 6.1mm thick.

We didn’t think it was possible to make a more desirable Android tablet than Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet, but the Xperia Z4 Tablet is a truly stunning piece of kit. Available in both black and white, the tablet’s soft, textured chassis makes it much more comfortable to hold than its cool, metallic rivals. The Xperia Z4 Tablet also has slimmer bezels than its predecessor and a higher resolution screen, with the resolution hitting a massive 2,560×1,600 pixels.

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^ The Xperia Z4 Tablet is as thin as an iPad Air 2, but weighs 45g less, making it the world’s lightest 10in tablet

DISPLAY

This gives the Xperia Z4 Tablet a pixel density of 299 pixels-per-inch, beating the iPad Air 2’s pixel density of 264ppi by quite a large margin, so everything from your films and photos should look razor sharp on its 16:10 display. While the bezels aren’t quite iPad Air standards, it’s still a gorgeous-looking IPS display that delivers bright, rich, vivid colours.

In terms of specific figures. Sony says it has the brightest display on any 10in tablet, measuring a claimed 500cd/m2, and that its colour accuracy should hit 130% of the sRGB colour gamut. We’ll have to wait and see whether we can get the same figures in our calibration tests, but if true it could be one of the best tablet displays we’ve ever seen.

WATERPROOF

Like the rest of the Xperia Z range, the Z4 Tablet is rated as IP65/68 waterproof, so you’ll be able to submerse it in a metre of water for up to thirty minutes and still be able to pop on a Netflix movie afterwards without ruining the device. It also has a capless USB port this time round as well, so you don’t need to worry about sealing it off with a plastic flap before you take it into the bath, for example. This is a very welcome addition in our eyes, as we always found the plastic flap tended to detract from its overall design and premium feel, so we’re pleased to see the back of it.

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^ Waterproofing makes a welcome return on the Xperia Z4 Tablet, but now you never have to worry about sealing off the USB port again thanks to its capless USB port

PERFORMANCE

Powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor – the same chipset you’ll find in nearly every flagship smartphone this year – and 3GB of RAM, Sony says the Xperia Z4 Tablet should be twice as fast as the Xperia Z2 Tablet. While we weren’t able to run any benchmarks on it during our hands-on time, Android 5.0 Lollipop certainly felt lightning fast as we swiped through its various home and menu screens – although we’re sad to see Sony’s ever-changing ribbon effect on the home screen has now disappeared since its debut on the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact.

With 32GB of onboard storage available and a microSD card slot to expand that even further, you’ll have plenty of space for all your apps and BBC iPlayer shows. It also has a huge 6,000mAh battery, which Sony says should last up to 17 hours of video playback on its Stamina energy saving profile.

The Xperia Z4 Tablet will also support High-Res audio playback and has digital noise cancelling and automatic headset compensation when you plug in a pair of headphones, delivering a richer audio experience when you’re catching up on the latest TV dramas or using the tablet as an additional display for your PS4 games via its PS4 Remote Play app.

WORK & PLAY

Sony’s not just positioning the Xperia Z4 Tablet as the ultimate entertainment device, though, as it’s also releasing an additional Bluetooth keyboard dock for it (the BKB50) to give users a workable laptop experience. Obviously, Android doesn’t offer the same kind of flexibility as Windows, but Sony’s implemented a few clever tricks in its version of Android 5.0 Lollipop to mimic the experience.

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^ The Xperia Z4 Tablet can be used as an Android-powered laptop as well, giving Google’s Chromebooks a run for their money

For instance, as soon as you attach the keyboard dock, you’ll see an additional row of app icons appear on the lower left part of the screen, much like you currently do in the Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 task bar. There’s also an app launcher button that brings up a make-shift Start screen, listing your recent apps as well as a settings shortcut. You’ll also be able to group apps into different folders, making it easier to find your office and productivity apps or various email clients.

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^ Click the arrow in the bottom left corner and you’ll find the Xperia Z4 Tablet’s app launcher, which makes it easier to open recent apps when using the keyboard

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^ You can also group apps together into certain categories, such as office applications and entertainment

While the keys themselves are a little cramped, they provided plenty of tactile feedback and the mouse cursor was perfectly responsive. Two-finger multi-touch gestures to switch between home screens could be a little fiddly, though, so we’d recommend just using the touchpad as a mouse pointer.

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^ You’ll also find a few Android-specific keys as well, including back, home and overview buttons in the lower right corner and a power and notification bar button in the top right

CONCLUSION

With so many strings to its bow, the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet looks as though it could be one of the best 10in tablets we’ll see this year. While its design continues in its predecessor’s extremely stylish footsteps, its new work capabilities and high-resolution screen give it plenty of advantages over its top competitors. While Sony’s yet to announce a firm release date for the Xperia Z4 Tablet yet, it did say it should launch in the UK sometime this spring, so check back then to see our final verdict.


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