One of the best-looking Android tablet is getting a significant upgrade: at Mobile World Congress, Sony is releasing the XPERIA Z2 Tablet, with a new design that improves just about everything about the Z Tablet line. First of all, the guts are much more impressive with a quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor (2.3GHz, 3GB of RAM) and integrated 4G LTE (there is a WiFi-only version too).
In term of design, the Sony Z2 tablet keeps the overall OmniBalance design language that worked so well for the first version. It does however get some tweaks inherited from the Sony XPERIA Z1 such as the slightly smoother angles and even better water-resistance (Sony actually says “waterproof”) than its first design. As a result, it’s fair to say that Sony’s tablet is life-proof and although people don’t go snorkeling with their tablet often (they can), a trip in the kitchen, bathroom or the pool can be dangerous for a tablet. And even without talking about “frying” a tablet, it’s just nice to be able to use it with dirty/greasy hands, and just wash it up later.
It’s not always obvious to see this on the product photos, but the Sony Z2 Tablet is very (very!) thin at 6.4mm. for comparison, the iPad Air is 7.5mm thick (17.18% thicker). More importantly, the Z2 is also very light. At 426g-439g it is even lighter than the “Air” which weighs 469g-478g (WiFi/3G), so this is a very good reference to compare to. This time, Sony will make the Z2 tablet available in Black, and White.
The screen has a diagonal of 10.1” with a Full HD (1920×1080) resolution. As usual, Sony uses its TRILUMINOS display technology which can, in theory, reproduce a color gamut which is 50% larger than conventional LCDs. While normal LCDs use a white light and color filters to form colors, Sony uses a blue light that passes through a film of Quantum Dots which will emit light in a more controlled way. The end result should be a better color restitution.
If you like watching movies or listening to music without headphones, the Z2 tablet also has S-Force Surround, a Digital Noise Cancelling feature that was initially used on Sony Televisions. The idea is to use sound processing to emulate a spatialization that would otherwise require multiple surround speakers. I’m not sure how good the tablet implementation is, but it will be interesting to try it in the real world.
If you own a Playstation, you may like the idea that DualShock 3 controllers are compatible with the Z2 tablet. This great, and we hope that this is the beginning of a larger expansion of the PlayStation experience on Android tablets. I always thought that Sony should open that up to the whole Android ecosystem, and hopefully this is what they will do.
In terms of battery capacity, Sony has included a 6000mAh battery in this tablet. While this may be a far cry from the 11560 mAh of the iPad 4, it’s also smaller than the 8820 mAh of the iPad Air. Sony says that its tablet can play video for 10 hours, but this is the main drawback of having an ultra-thin design: the battery needs to be smaller since it is one of the largest components of the system. Fortunately, the Z2 uses Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 which can charge “75% faster than conventional technologies” according to Qualcomm. However, it remains to be seen how this compares with other high-end tablets that may also use a similar technology.
Last but not least, Sony has integrated a 8.1 Megapixel camera in the back which uses an EXMOR RS sensor. In the front, there is a 2.2 Megapixel camera which should be plenty for Skype and other video-chat apps. The Sony Camera app should look familiar to anyone who has used a CyberShot camera before. The menus and options are very similar and this should be “known territory” for Sony customers. I typically use the Sony Camera app in full auto mode (Superior Auto) and I really like that it is smart enough to do the right thing most of the time. I just want to point & shoot to have a snapshot of what I see, and I think that most people use their mobile cameras like that.
With this update, The Sony Z2 tablet catches up to the best hardware that is currently available and offers top of the line features in a package that is exquisitely good looking, life-proof and light at the same time. It is true that some concessions had to be made in terms of battery capacity, but this is typically an extremely difficult combination to put together. After arriving late to the tablet market, Sony has finally caught up with the best.