Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact hands on review: Sony ups the game once again

When Sony released its Xperia Z2 tablet earlier this year, they moved the goalposts in the global tablet market. The entertainment giant managed to release a serious competitor to Apple's iPad Air that redefined just how thin and light a tablet computer could be. So how does the Xperia Z3 tablet compare to its predecessor, and what has Sony done to up the game? ITProPortal got hands on to find out.

Design

This is where the Sony Xperia Z2 really shone, and the Xperia Z3 is no different. We were frankly stunned by the lightweight design of Sony's new tablet offering. Back in April, the Xperia Z2 weighed in at 6.4mm, a whole 3mm slimmer than the iPad Air, and actually 2mm slimmer than any smartphone out there.

Sony hasn't given Apple any time to reply, either: the company has actually gone even further with their slimming down in the Xperia Z3 tablet.

The Xperia Z2 also out-Aired the iPad Air, coming in at an astonishing 43g lighter than Apple's lightest tablet ever. Once again, the Xperia Z3 is lighter still, weighing in at a featherweight . When we picked up the Z3, the feel of it is actually pretty surreal.

Display

The Z3 Tablet Compact's 8in screen is the only Android tablet model out there that can compete head to head with the Apple iPad mini with Retina display.

True, the Apple tablet offers a slightly greater resolution and higher pixel density on a slightly smaller screen; however, this difference isn't all that important in reality, and is barely discernible to the human eye. To be precise, Sony's tablet has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, leading to 283 ppi – Apple's model is 324 ppi, which just breaks the threshold of 300 ppi that gives it the title "retina".

The screen of Son'y latest flagship tablet isn't without its odd shortcomings, especially when it comes to contrast sustainability. But the imaging surpasses Sony's "big" Xperia Z2 Tablet in quality, offering up greater brightness, vividness of colour, and sharpness. White tones are even whiter than on the larger Z2 Tablet, while imperfections in the contrast only really appear at truly wide viewing angles, or when sudden changes occur in the surrounding lighting.

Under the hood

The new Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact runs extremely smoothly during both gameplay and media consumption. This is largely thanks to its speedy Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801 processor clocking in at 2.5 GHz, and backed up by an Adreno 330 GPU and 3 GB of RAM. The Tablet Compact also has 16 GB of integrated storage, making its hardware platform identical to that of the Sony Xperia Z3 smartphone, which was also presented at IFA in Berlin.

It also supports Sony's latest PlayStation 4 integration technology, so that the console's games can be played on the tablet via Wi-Fi, and the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact can be set up in a special dual shock controller dock.

Camera

It's a bit disappointing that Sony stumped for a slightly underpower camera, with its 8-megapixel back-snapper and 2.2-megapixel front-facing Skype and selfie-cam.

Compared to the 20.7-megapixel monster on the Z3 smartphone, this seems a little paltry - but Sony is obviously de-emphasising the tablet's use as a photography device as opposed to the flagship Xperia smartphone.

Verdict

The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is an incredible update to what was already one of the best tablet offerings on the market. It's incredibly light, beautifully made, and high-powered. Anyone looking to buy a tablet who has a bit of cash to burn should definitely put it firmly into their shortlist of tablets to buy.