At this year's CES, Sony unveiled its newest flagship phone, the Xperia Z, which wowed with its sleek all-glass design, powerful components, and fully waterproof enclosure. Not content with stopping there, Sony has unveiled another addition to its growing Xperia line-up – the Xperia Tablet Z, which Sony claims is the world's thinnest 10in tablet. We had a chance to go hands-on with the svelte Sony slate.
Sony is decidedly aiming at the high-end tablet market, and the Xperia Tablet Z shows it. Much like the Xperia Z phone, the Tablet Z exudes class and style with its sleek and well-built exterior. The two devices share the same rubberised plastic finish, with details like metal buttons rounding off the premium feel. The Tablet Z is also fully waterproof in up to 3-feet of water for 30 minutes.
The Tablet Z is a 10.1in Android slate, and Sony claims it's the world's thinnest at only 6.9mm. It also weighs in at just 500 grams, making it significantly lighter than the Apple iPad’s 650 grams. During our hands-on opportunity, the Tablet Z felt unbelievably light for a 10in tablet, and its razor thin profile was impressive. It also felt sturdily built, despite its waifish dimensions, and aside from a couple of flaps along the edges, I would've had a hard time guessing this was a fully waterproof device.
Powering the Tablet Z is Qualcomm's quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro with 2GB of RAM. This is a first for a tablet, according to Sony, and we've seen how fast the S4 Pro can fly in recent smartphones equipped with the beefy chip. The Tablet Z will be available in 16GB or 32GB configurations, and both feature a microSD card slot for expansion.
The Tablet Z goes with an increasingly standard 1080p display, which looked incredibly rich, with colours that popped out like AMOLED screens, but without the blue-ish hue typically associated with those displays. There's also built-in NFC for connecting the Tablet Z to a multitude of Sony products, including speakers, docks, and TVs.
The Tablet Z also features a rear-facing 8-megapixel camera with Sony's Exmor R sensor, and a front-facing 2-megapixel camera for HD video chats. The Tablet Z will launch with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and Sony promises an upgrade to 4.2 after launch.
Sony also demoed the Tablet Z's entertainment prowess, connecting the device to a TV and cable box using the built-in IR blaster. I was particularly intrigued by the TV SideView App, which served up programming info coupled with information from social media sources like Twitter. The Tablet Z easily controlled the TV and cable box, with a simple flick of a slide towards the TV bringing up the selected program.
As far as high-end Android slates goes, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z certainly looks the part, with an impressive combination of design and features. Sony expects the Tablet Z to launch this spring, with the base 16GB model priced at $499 (£330 our money using a direct conversion – though exact UK pricing is to be confirmed, and will be more than this). The 32GB model will run to $599 (£395).