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First impressions: Hands on with the latest Apple iPad Air rival, Sony's Xperia Z2

Mobile World Congress isn't all about the smartphones, and one great example of the wide range of devices on show down here in Barcelona is the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet.

Launched alongside the Xperia Z2 smartphone, I got a chance to take a closer look at Sony's new slate and was really impressed with what I saw.

Related: Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone - hands on preview

The first thing I was drawn to was the Xperia Z2's 10.1in screen, which has a Full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels. It's not the most mind boggling spec on paper but was nice and bright in the flesh, featuring sharp text and well-defined colours.

But the real beauty of the Xperia Z2 tablet is its amazingly svelte build. It's the first device I've played with to really rival Apple's iPad Air in terms of its lightness and slim physique.

Read more: Sony Xperia Z2 tablet vs the Apple iPad Air: Spec comparison

Weighing just 426g and measuring a pencil-thin 6.8mm in girth, the Xperia Z2 is about 30g lighter than the iPad Air and 2mm thinner than even the most slender smartphone - a really impressive design feat.

One way Sony was able to slim down the Xperia Z2 so effectively was by tightly integrating its outputs and connectivity features. Tightly built into the chassis are a card slot for expandable storage and a microUSB charging port, while the 4G model of the device will also pack a SIM-card holder.

These features are tightly sealed under flaps, a feature necessary to help maintain the tablet's water and dust resistant nature.

Under the hood of the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet is a new-generation quad-core Snapdragon 801 chipset clocked at up to 2.3GHz and complemented by 3GB of RAM – a solid configuration and there was no noticeable lag during my quick play with the device. Powering the show is a beefy 6,000mAh battery that Sony claims offers longevity of 10 hours.

Read more: Apple iPad Air review

Sony's UI is another strong point if you don't like heavy Android skins like Samsung's TouchWiz or HTC's Sense. It's fairly close to the original look and feel of Android 4.4 KitKat but does add some extra media and social features, so it's not completely bloat-free and doesn't really do it for me.

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Anyone daft enough to want to take photos with a tablet will be pleased that the Xperia Z2 sports an 8.1-megapixel Exmor RS primary camera and a 2.2-megapixel front snapper for video calling.

Potentially saving the best for last, the other feature that really stood out for me on the Xperia Z2 was its docking capability. This means the device slips easily into keyboard cases and the like for business users (albeit with slightly less physical flexibility than the Surface or high-end iPad keyboard cases).

Some of the other neat things we're looking forward to exploring in more detail include being able to pair the Xperia Z2 with the PlayStation 4's DualShock 3 controller for second screen gaming functionality, and testing the build-in noise cancellation, which could mean you don't need to lug (and buy) bulky high-end headphones with you on your travels.

Based on our short time with the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet at MWC, we really liked what we saw. The updates are fairly subtle across the board, with the obvious exception of the device's almost anorexic build - the lightness of the device is genuinely mind-boggling when first picked up.

Sony has said that its Xperia Z2 tablet will be available from March 2014 and we're really looking forward to putting it through its paces in more detail soon.

Check out our full spec comparison: the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet vs the Apple iPad Air.