BARCELONA: THE XPERIA TABLET Z was originally unveiled in Japan prior to Mobile World Congress (MWC).
Visually the Tablet Z looks like a blown up version of the Xperia Z smartphone. The 10in tablet features the same Omnibalance, hard edge, rectangular design.
Omnibalance is a special design philosophy by Sony that aims to ensure that the Tablet Z has a consistent appearance at whatever angle it's viewed from, apparently.
Also, like the Sony Xperia Z smartphone, the Tablet Z is very slim, measuring a tiny 6.9mm thick. This makes the Tablet Z the slimmest tablet ever built.
The Tablet Z is also light, weighing just 495g. That means that the Tablet Z is as much as 100g lighter than most other 10in tablets.
Even better, the Tablet Z is IP57 certified, meaning it is scratch, dust and even water resistant. While we haven't had a chance to test just how robust the Tablet Z really is, if Sony's tablet is as tough as the company claims, it could be an ideal choice for business users looking for a tablet they can use on the go without fear of damage.
Sony has loaded the 10.1in 1,920x1,080 Tablet Z LCD screen with its Bravia Engine 2 screen technology. The technology is the same as used on the Xperia Z smartphone and aims to radically improve the screen's clarity, colour balance and refresh rate.
During our hands-on we found the tablet's display was superb when viewed directly. However, as with the Xperia Z smartphone, the Tablet Z did appear to have some glare issues. Using the Tablet Z in the brightly lit Sony showroom we found that it was slightly prone to catching glare from bright lights.
This could be due to the hefty coat of shatterproof and scratch resistant glass Sony has wrapped around the display, though to be fair the environment was very bright and we had the same problem using our own HTC One X+.
The Tablet Z runs on a customised version of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. This means that the tablet features a number of duplicate Sony equivalents of core Google apps. These include a custom Walkman app and some third party Sony stores.
The OS also features tweaked shortcuts to Google apps, meaning it looks slightly different than most other Android 4.1 Jelly Bean powered devices. However, the changes are harmless and from what we saw Sony hasn't overloaded the user interface with too many needless custom widgets, as certain companies - *cough* Samsung *cough* - have.
The Tablet Z also has 3G and 4G connectivity options, meaning that users should be able to get the most out of the operating system's built-in location based Google Now service. Google Now is a custom service that offers users intelligently selected information about their surroundings based on their search and location data.
Sony's loaded the Tablet Z with an impressive quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU. This combined with Google's Project Butter buffering meant that during our brief time with the device we were very impressed by how nippy it was.
While we didn't get a chance to see how it performed when tasked to run powerful, 3D-heavy games off the PlayStation Mobile Store loaded on the Tablet Z, our initial tests indicated that the Tablet Z is a powerhouse.
The Tablet Z loaded multiple web pages with the Chrome web browser with ease and streamed video seamlessly, and we're really looking forward to seeing how far we can push it during our full review.
The Tablet Z's main rear-facing camera features an 8.1MP main sensor while its front snapper is 2.2MP.
While it was not on a par with the 13MP camera loaded on the Xperia Z smartphone, we were pleasantly surprised with how well the Tablet Z's camera worked in the showroom floor's bright lighting.
Images were crisp and featured great colour balance levels. However, we didn't get the chance to see how the camera performed in more adverse low lighting conditions - a traditional stumbling block for most tablet and smartphone cameras.
The Tablet Z comes pre-loaded with 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded via its microSD card slot.
The device is powered by a 6000mAh non-removable battery that Sony claims will last at least a full day on a single charge.
Although we weren't wholly won over by the Xperia Z smartphone when it was released earlier this year, our first impressions of the Tablet Z are very positive.
Since it's lightweight, robustly built and features a powerful quad-core processor, it could prove to be a great choice for mobile business users.
Check back later for a full review of the Sony Xperia Tablet Z. µ