Sony's tablet and smartphone divisions struggled in 2012, falling victim to the seemingly unstoppable legion of Samsung devices sweeping the market. But, unwilling to throw in the towel, the Japanese giant has come out swinging in 2013 and unveiled a host of new top-end Xperia devices. This started at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, with Sony's Xperia Z smartphone, and continued in February when it unveiled the Xperia Tablet Z.
While the Z smartphone's poor battery life and less than stellar software additions hampered some of the device's more positive design and screen technologies, Sony promised that these flaws had been fixed for the Tablet Z. If true, the tablet could be a key competitor to Samsung and perhaps even Apple's iPad in the 2013 tablet market.
Design and build
The Z features the same OmniBalance design as its smaller sibling, the Xperia Z. This means the Tablet Z looks like a blown-up version of the Z smartphone, and features the same hard-lined, rectangular design. The back of the tablet is made of polycarbonate, while the front is made of Gorilla Glass. The use of polycarbonate is deceiving as it hides the Tablet Z's most interesting design feature, its IP57 certification. The certification means that, despite being built from polycarbonate, the Tablet Z is a very rugged device, being scratch, dust and water resistant.
We put the tablet through a set of brutal ordeals, shoving it in a sandbox at our local park, running it under a cold tap and then using it underwater and accidentally leaving it in the care of a neighbour's dog. To our amazement, the tablet remained unscathed. For business users who travel regularly or work in industries that require them to be outdoors, the Tablet Z's IP57 certification is a definite boon. The Tablet Z's travel-friendly, portable nature is aided by its lightweight and ultra-slim dimensions; it's the thinnest tablet currently available, measuring 266x172x6.9mm and weighing just 495g.
Next: Display, operating system and software