Feb. 25, 2013 at 12:40 PM ET
Sony bills its new Xperia Tablet Z as the world’s thinnest tablet. And it’s beautiful. You can even get it wet. Unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2013, the Xperia Tablet Z is a slate you can use with confidence in the kitchen or by the pool. Those aren’t the only things Sony’s new device has going for it: A new SideView app lets you see what’s on TV and change the channel with a tap. Add in a full HD display with a wider color spectrum than the iPad and you have one of the more compelling Android tablets of the year.
For the Xperia Tablet Z, Sony ditched the fold design it used on its previous two Android tablets, the Sony Tablet S and the Sony Xperia Tablet S. That’s probably a good thing, for although we liked the distinctive shape of the latter, thin is in. The Tablet Z measures just 0.26 inches thick, making it the “world’s thinnest 10-inch tablet,” according to Sony. Considering the Toshiba Excite 10 LE was 0.3 inches thick, we’re splitting hairs here, but the design is still remarkably svelte.
The Xperia Tablet Z weighs 1.09 pounds, making it lighter than competing devices such as the iPad (1.4 pounds) and the Excite 10 LE (1.13 pounds).
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According to Sony, the full HD (1920 x 1080) display on the Xperia Tablet Z has 20 percent great color gamut than the iPad, made possible by its Bravia engine. The 10.1-inch display has an aspect ratio of 16:10. During our hands-on time, images looked lush and vivid–even underwater.
Yes, the Tablet Z is IP57 water resistant, which means it can survive up to 30 minutes in 6 inches of water. We wouldn’t go swimming with it, but wouldn’t worry if someone accidentally spilled their Poland Spring bottle on the device, either. The screen can also be used even when covered with water, so you could use it in the shower, if you want.
Like the Xperia Tablet S, the Tablet Z has a built-in IR blaster. Used in conjunction with the Sony SideView app, which displays what programs are currently on TV, you can change to a desired show by merely flicking that program’s icon towards the top of the display. It’s a pretty neat feature, and one that Sony hopes will make its tablet more of a living-room staple.
The Tablet Z also has built-in NFC, as well as Sony’s One Touch technology. This lets you wirelessly connect to another NFC-enabled device, such as a speaker, merely by tapping it with the tablet. The onboard sound isn’t too shabby, either. Four speakers around the sides and back of the Tablet Z help ensure that sound doesn’t become muffled when the device is held or in someone’s lap.
Inside the Tablet Z is a quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor. A battery stamina mode shuts down processes when the screen is off–but you can whitelist apps to remain on–so the tablet will have more than 4 times the standby time as the previous version. Sony estimates that the Tablet Z will last for about 8 hours while browsing the Web via Wi-Fi.
When it goes on sale in May, Sony will offer two versions of the Xperia Tablet Z: A 16GB model will cost $499, and a 32GB version will cost $599. The tablet will be available in white or black. Overall, the Xperia Tablet Z looks is a gorgeous and highly versatile tablet that’s tailor-made for TV fans.
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