Below are all the review posts covering the Sony Xperia Z Tablet.
When you power up your new Xperia Z Tablet it only comes with one web browser, and that is Chrome. I make the point of one web browser as it seems many new phones or tablets on android come with 2 options. Anyway, chrome is very good on the tablet but there is a much better option. And that is Chrome Beta.
Using the beta version is so much better. Scrolling becomes silky smooth and fast, and full screen occurs now. These 2 improvements make it a strong recommendation to install.
You can find Chrome Beta in the Play Store.
To recap the previous parts of the review click here.
The Z tablet has been a learning experience and a joy of discovery. It’s strengths are its exception audio quality through headphones, it’s media abilities, the FM Radio. I must stress the radio. Until you listen to the Z I doubt you would have ever heard anything so mind blowingly good. The same applies to the Walkman app.
It’s profile. It’s very slim, light (extended periods of use don’t matter due to being so slight) , waterproof too. This adds to its durability. For the first time if I want to take a photo outside and it’s raining I have nothing to worry about. Also the camera is very good with loads of options too.
Access to PlayStation One games which work with the PS3 controller out of the box. Also I have been using the Moga Pro Controller which makes gaming a joy. The 10.1 inch screen is like having a tv with you. The iPad Mini looks so squashed and blurry. It’s not blurry but it just doesn’t compete with the Z.
Battery life is all day. The infra red remote control.
The memory is expandable for media up to 64gb. NFC.
Seriously this Z is one serious bit of kit. I love it. If I didn’t have so many games on ios, about 600, I would have sold the iPad by now.
And Sony have really worked hard to make the user experience perfect and with other devices you can create a superb eco system.
So do I recommend it. One word. Yes.
I received the Zenus Neo Classic case from Gearzap in wine red. The black/grey version had sold out so I took a chance with the wine red. The photos make it look more red than it is, since it does have shades of brown too. In fact the finish is stunning.
Above is the front view and below the rear of the case when closed.
Opening the case up reveals 3 flaps on the right and the base for the Z tablet to slide into too from the top downwards.
Due to the profile of the Z tablet it is able to slide into the Zenus case as it it was on rails. See below.
The case is beautifully designed with the camera hole perfectly cut on the rear, and a space cutoff for the infra red blaster and microphone. The usb flap is not accessible when the case is closed, nor is the case dockable with the official Sony dock. But with the case folded back you have clear access to the usb flap. Also, it is a simple affair to glide the Z out of the case and into the dock.
The case has 3 flaps inside, held back with using magnets. One provides a carry strap, which is pointless, and then the other two are for typing mode or viewing position.
You have the option of clicking the fastener to the case or leaving it loose as shown above.
The stand out impression of this case is one of quality. It does add to the weight and overall bulk, but it will protect you Z Tablet in style. The tablet weighs 495g and the case 322g. One omission is not having a magnet to turn on or off the screen. That’s a shame as its otherwise its a great case . Then again at £45 it should be of top quality.
Yesterday the postman was all about the Z Tablet, and along with the Zenus case came the official Sony Dock .
The dock is a very simple affair, a plastic base with a micro usb slot and a pivoting rear plate. The dock costs nearly £40 and doesn’t come with a micro usb lead or mains plug. You are meant to use the plug and cable that came with the tablet. Connecting the lead is very simple as shown below.
You then take the Z tablet and it beautifully glides down into the dock. Effortless.
You can then adjust the angle too. However, as soon as the tablet is docked the smart connect app launched. Screen shots below.
With this app you can create actions that occur when the tablet is cradled. In fact you can do this for any accessory, and as you can see I have a number already working with the Z tablet.
Once docked you can adjust the viewing angle. I must admit when I first took the dock out of the packaging I was a underwhelmed. But in use it is rather neat. Is it worth £40. That’s debatable. Would I recommend it. Yes but only if you’re rich.
For the earlier review posts click here.
In this part I am going to look at some of the software included by Sony.
Socialite – this is a social and news gathering service and if you use it before the end of June you can import Google reader feeds. Looks good but lacks the full sharing options for some bizarre reasons.
Alarm Clock – an app to manage your alarms, with a world clock, stopwatch and timer. In the world clock screen you can press the time zone icon and it displays the countries setup as a light to dark shade giving you a pictorial representation if it is night or day.
Backup – this app allows you to back your device to the SD card or USB storage. You can select whatever data you require from the system Apps data, media , and the downloaded apps and it’s data. I haven’t tested this yet but it does look really good.
Calculator – its a calculator
Calendar – Sony’s calendar app is very good. Views are month, week, day and agenda. The month view also displays in the right an agenda view of the days events. Each day of the month has the text of the event. The week view has the days of the week laid out with the text and on the right a small calendar of the month. The day view is the same as the month but just that day and a small view of the calendar on the right. The agenda view is a list, but with the page split in two. List of events in left and detail of highlighted event on right.
Camera – modes for resolution, self timer ,smile shutter, quick launch, geotagging, auto upload, touch capture, shutter sound, data storage, superior auto, normal, video capture, burst (3 speed options), picture effect (9 to choose from), sweep panorama, scene selection (soft snap, landscape, night ,beach, snow, sports, party), front video, HDR, iso, white balance, entering, image stabiliser, exposure value, focus mode. All in all a very comprehensive list of options and being waterproof you can photograph in the rain.
Email – if you don’t use gmail, Sony has its own email app.
Downloads – displays what you have downloaded.
File Transfer – allows you to move the fire from internal to micro SD card. Or USB storage. Hidden files can be shown too. Plenty of options too.
FM Radio – the coolest FM radio app I’ve seen with great sound. Displays station name and have cool visualisations in the background. Also has track ID built in. You can play in the speaker and force mono. You can also change region between default, Japan, Italy and Thailand. Ideal for travellers. I must emphasise the fm radio quality is exception with great separation and more. Stunning!
PlayStation Mobile – play PlayStation 1 games bought from Sony’s store. Most of the games work very well with the PS3 dual shock controller.
Movie Studio – for editing your movies.
Music & Video Unlimited – access to Sony’s stores for music and video.
Notes – a note app that syncs with Evernote .
Mobisystems Office suite viewers. You can upgrade for £15 for full editing.
Play Memories online – Sony’s photo storage offering
Remote – universal remote control app that uses the Sony infra red blaster. Also has macro modes. Great app.
Sony Select – Sony’s app and game recommendation. Worth looking at as some good free apps exclusive for Xperia devices.
TV Sideview – WiFi remote plus programme guide and details
Update Centre – a single app to handle every type of updates from the firmware to apps. Also shown in the settings.
WiFi Checker – does exactly what is says. Ideal if you are having problems .
Walkman – the Sony music app. And its great. Select by tracks, albums, artists, playlists (create your own or use the smart ones) , mood selection, music unlimited, friends Facebook music and a favourites playlist. Music info can be pulled in from Gracenote. Superb sound and equaliser options. But I’ll stress and the stunning sound.
There are many other apps plus the Google standard apps. The only browser installed is Chrome.
Tomorrow I will summarise my final thoughts on this tablet.
To read the previous parts of the review click here.
I took a break from reviewing the tablet at the weekend, not because I wanted a break but because I had to exchange my Z tablet for a new one due to damage to one of the flaps. I must comment the Plymouth Sony Centre for their excellent handling of this problem. The experience was equal to the Apple store and that is saying something.
Anyway, over the weekend I had to reinstall all my apps and start to setup all my services and logins. Bizarrely, this was actually a really good tthing as I discovered a couple of things I previously missed.
First up, I am now using the default keyboard, which is in my opinion the best keyboard I have ever used. To get it into this position I went into the keyboard settings and asked it to auto correct my spelling mistakes, to add symbols to the keys and allow swiping. I also opted to include Google Voice symbol and a smiley key.
Previously, auto correct only adjusted capitalisation and the keys didn’t have symbols on them, no smiley and Google key either. The difference for me with these adjustments is superb. I am super quick across the keyboard. Apple iPad users I feel for you 😉
The other nifty feature I discovered was with the default Sony launcher. The launcher allows for 5 home screens, all of which can be completely different, including the dock icons. So one page could be a business setup, with the respective widgets, apps and sshortcuts. Another for music and entertainment etc.
The other aspect of this tablet I like is its waterproof nature. In the UK it rains a lot. How many of you would feel comfortable using your phone in the rain or tablet? Well now if it is raining I can use my Z tablet and continue taking great photos with its 8mp camera. It is the little things like this that make a big difference.
I am also loving the lightweight feel and glorious 10.1″ screen.
One last setting I found was in the music sound settings. It has an option to level out the volume between different songs. So, right now as I type this, I am using the tablet to llisten to my music, in shuffle mode. With the option switched on, listening to piano or heavy metal makes no difference to volume level. All songs play at the same volume level. Neat!
Tomorrow I will look at more aspects of this Z tablet. All I can say so far is that Sony have created a real gem.
In part six I am going to take a look at the Album app. If you want to read the earlier parts of the review click here.
When I first started using the Album app, I thought it was quirky and poorly designed.
When you open the app you are faced with your photos sorted by date. So I thought, maybe my photos I copied across on to the micro SD card would be saved and displayed in the My Albums tab. Well at first they didn’t display. I realised that the photos need to be in the root directory of the micro sd card to display correctly as shown below. I still might be doing something wrong, but i haven’t figured it out yet.
Of course, if you want Facebook etc photos showing you need to login to your service. I wish there was a way of hiding the service icons like Facebook as I don’t use it at all, and it looks naff sitting in the gallery. Anyway if you click on a folder you are presented with all the photos as below.
Using two fingers you can zoom out and make the thumbnails bigger and bigger and smaller again. Below are some of the different sizes.
You can go larger and larger and larger again. Photos look great on the screen. From within the app you have many sharing options as well as editing.
Clicking the menu provides basic editing, but then you can invoke the photo editor and bring up more options and filters.
With all the photo options available, the pinch to zoom or shrink the thumbnaiks , Sony really do provide a complete gallery app.
One of the benefits or features of buying a Sony tablet is the ability to natively use the PS3 controller. It is very easy to setup, with a once only connection via USB to the Z Tablet, and thereafter it connects automatically by bluetooth. You can also use the tablet to charge the controller. Also, when in use, there is an icon in the notification bar showing its connected and the controller battery level.
The Z tablet comes with the PlayStation mobile app, which connects to the Sony Entertainment Network website. As I bought the tablet before the end of June, I received £20 to spend within Sony`s store. This has enabled me to buy a movie, and several PS1 games. The photo above is Switch Galaxy. It is an absolute blast to play with the controller.
I have also been able to play other games like Shadowgun. I can see more and more games and devices in the future. It certainly takes gaming to a much better level as touch controls and can only do so much.
Would you want to play games like with a controller?
Want to read the earlier review parts. Click here.
Welcome to part 4 of my Z Tablet review. The other parts can be found here.
Today, I will be looking closer at the settings app and some of the options available.
First up in the power management settings, which provide options to extend the standby time and have a low battery mode. The stamina mode when the screen is off disables wifi and bluetooth and makes most applications inactive. You will still receive SMS/MMS, Sony calendar notifications and downloads will continue until finished. Low battery mode allows you to set a battery percentage, and then decide for custom screen brightness and timeout, and has options to turn off wifi, gps, bluetooth and auto sync. You can also decide to have the battery level in the status bar, and examine which services and apps are using the battery and their percentage usage.
Under the More settings you get options for Airplane mode, VPN, Media Server settings, NFC and android beam.
The sound menu has a few options to tweak the loudspeaker sound, similar to HTC that comes with Beats audio, although the Sony has far more options. However, the speakers lack bass but do go rather loud. You can also set the default notification sound of which there are loads. And some awesome ones too.
The display menu provides options for the screen image enhancer using the Mobile Bravia Engine 2. However, you can turn on double tap the screen to turn on. This is an excellent feature. The Z does also have a sleep magnet, so if you had a compatible case you can turn on or off the screen using this method. You also have the options for the notification light.
Out of the 32gb you get 25.68gb available. After installing around 80 apps/games I have used 7gb.
The Xperia menu settings is rather interesting.
From within this menu you can setup a PS3 Dual Shock Controller, check its battery level too. You can turn on screen mirroring, throw media to other devices, and select USB connection mode between mass storage and media transfer mode.
The other menu options are all pretty self explanatory, but should you have any questions please let me know.
Welcome to my third part of my review of the Sony Xperia Z tablet. To read previous post click here.
So today, I thought I would look closer at the hardware and compare its size to the iPad Mini and HTC One. So first lets have a look around the device.
On the front you have top right the Sony logo, top centre the front 2.2mp camera and just left of the camera the ambient sensor. Apart from that, there isn’t anything else on the front.
On the rear, you have the words Xperia dead centre, top right the 8.1mp rear camera and bottom centre the NFC hotspot.
The left side edge features a flap to reveal the headphone jack, the on/off button which is a silver aluminium affair, the notification light just under the on/off button, then the volume rocker, moving further down near the bottom is the charging points for the Sony Dock (review coming up when dock received) and right down near the bottom of the left side the left speaker grill. Interesting the left speaker has a further grill on the bottom edge.
So that also means of the bottom edge there is the right speaker grill as well. Next to the left grill is a flap that reveals the micro usb socket. On the far right next to the right speaker is a larger flap that reveals the slot for your micro sd card. The flap is bigger as if you had a cellular version, you would place your sim card in this spot too. The right side edge at the bottom has the other speaker grill for the right speaker and nothing else. The top edge of the Z features the infra red blaster and microphone.
Tomorrow I will have a look at the settings, as this always reveals a few surprises.
Yesterday, I gave some quick impressions of the Z tablet, and today I am going to continue with some more impressions and review. Its my birthday today, so this will be the only post today.
So I have now copied all my photos, movies and music on to the device. The first issue I have encountered is the walkman app is unable to download the music info due to a network error. Maybe Gracenote is unavailable, so I will try tomorrow. No big deal, but I would like the artwork. I did copy everything via Wi-Fi but I now discovered Sony Bridge for Mac. If I cant get the artwork across, I will try the Sony app. It might be that I put all 3,000 songs in one folder.
I have plugged my headphones into the Z, and have been blown away by the quality of the built in headphone amp. I thought the HTC One sounded good, but seriously it is not even a patch on the Z tablet. The Z is now my music player of choice. My old iPod Classic is toast now. The music has amazing clarity, seperation, depth, punch and musicality. Whilst the headphone sound is fantastic, the external speakers are loud but slightly tinny. This probably is due to the waterproof aspect of this tablet.
The screen. Nothing beats a lovely wide 10.1 inch screen. My iPad Mini is toast too. It doesnt stand a chance against the Z. The Z does seem to be a finger print magnet. But then it is a new toy and I am using it alot. If it wasn’t for the fact I need an ios device so I can use play some of the games I have bought, I would sell it tomorrow. The other aspect is the weight. The Z is very light and therefore enjoyable to hold and use for long periods.
Talking of the screen, the tablet is really easy to use due to some nifty screen options. Visible at the bottom left is the home, back and recent apps. The bottom right is the notification centre and settings shortcuts. Whilst on the home screen, you get the infra red remote icon and quick widget apps. The quick apps can include apps, widgets up to 7 in total. These are special small apps, of which there are over 58 to choose from. Top right includes Google search and voice search. Then you can add 4 apps or folders to have quick shortcuts on the top bar. In the middle of the top bar is the 5 dots showing which homescreen you are on. Finally top right, is the apps button to get to all your apps, and a button to add new widgets, wallpapers or change the theme. In the app screen, you can adjust the display options from own order, alphabetical, most used, recently downloaded. You can have folders too. There doesnt seem to be a restriction to the number of apps in a folder.
The Sony launcher is excellent, even better than Sense 5. So it stays. Some screen shots of the home screens.
You can see the layouts of all the scren options too.
And the app screen.
And on the home screen pressing the + reveals this.
Tomorrow I will discuss the infra red software and more. And mention one super incredible feature just discovered.
If you have any questions, just let me know.
Update – the album artwork downloaded a lot later. Clearly a Gracenote server error.
This is a very early first impression. I have had the Z tablet half a day, and managed to sleep 4 hours as well.
So, first up its very thin and light. It is thinner than the iPhone 5. It is nearly as light as the iPad Mini. The screen is superb, and its a beauty with a 10.1 inch screen. This entire post was typed on the tablet.
Sony have included lots of their own software. The launcher is very good. I won’t be using an alternative launcher, as the Sony layer does everything you need. It took me a few hours to explore all the software included. Some of it is now hidden in a trash folder, but 80% was useable. The tablet is waterproof, so I did the mandatory test in the bath, and it worked just fine. It also has a infra red blaster and decent infra red software. I have managed to setup 3 devices already. The Z Tablet also has the option of mini pop ups, like a web browser, clip tool and more.
On first launch I went into software update and updated to a newer software. It is android 4.1.2 but the Sony extras provide a great performance.
I noticed in the settings it has native support for the Sony PS3 Dual Shock Controller and that is amazing. Via the Sony Entertainment Network I have downloaded some PS1 games and I have been having a blast. 10.1 inch screen and gaming are a match in heaven, especially as its light too.
It has front and rear cameras. The rear is a 8mp Sony Exmor RS sensor from memory. It takes good photos. And as the tablet is waterproof, I can now go out in the bad weather of Dartmoor, and take some ghastly weather snaps.
Battery life is an unknown, but its going fairly well. 10 hours use. Started at 75% and dropped to 26% before plugged back in. One last point the only web browser is Chrome.