Hands on with the Sony Xperia Tablet Z

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BARCELONA—Unveiled on the first day of Mobile World Congress, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z is one of the biggest hits at the mobile industry trade show. The tablet has an aesthetically pleasing design and features high-end specs that keep it competitive with other premium 10-inch tablets.

Sony had the tablet on display at its booth on the MWC show floor, and I managed to score a few minutes to play with this beautiful piece of technology.

The Xperia Tablet Z is lighter than Apple’s iPad and feels comfortable in your hand.

The first thing I noticed when picking up the Xperia Tablet was how light it felt in my hand. The tablet weighs in at a featherlight 495 grams—157 grams lighter than Apple’s similarly sized iPad. At 6.9 millimeters thick the Xperia Tablet Z is one of the thinnest tablets around. The tablet felt sturdy, and its rounded edges made it comfortable to hold while I browsed through apps and watched short videos.

Like the Xperia Z smartphone, one of the Xperia Tablet’s strongest features is its 10.1-inch 1920 by 1200p WUXGA display, which Sony has engineered to be easier to see when under direct sunlight. The screen is breathtaking: Colors on the Xperia Tablet Z look warm and even, and text is crisp and easy to read. The short video clips I watched on the tablet looked better than what I’d seen on 55-inch TVs with similar resolutions. When it comes to consuming videos, photos, and other content, the Xperia Tablet’s screen will definitely put it out in front of rival devices.

A 1920 by 1200p WUXGA display makes things pop on the Xperia Tablet Z.

But just because a tablet looks good, doesn’t always mean it’s all that great when it comes to performance. Luckily, the Xperia Z tablet’s 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM kept things feeling zippy and lag-free. Apps opened and closed without delay, though I really wish that I could have tried a high-end game on the device to really put the chipset through its paces. The Xperia Tablet’s 8-megapixel camera also did an admirable job of capturing photos in Sony’s brightly lit booth. (Seriously, tech companies—would it be too much to make sure the lighting in your booth helps demonstrate what your products can actually do?)

The Xperia Tablet ships with Android 4.1, a shame considering Android 4.2 has been out now since November 2012. Sony plans to eventually update the tablet to the latest version of Android, and the company can boast a pretty good track record of keeping its devices up-to-date so I’m willing to believe the claim that an OS update is in the works.

You’d have a hard time finding a tablet that’s as thing as Sony’s new offering. The Xperia Tablet Z is just 6.9 millimeters thick.

Two more things worth noting about the Xperia Tablet: It has a built-in IR blaster so you can use it as a remote control, and it’s water resistant. Sony had kiosks at its booth where people could dunk both the Xperia Tablet Z and Xperia Z smartphone into small pools of water. That’s good news for anyone that’s ever lost electronics due to a misplaced drink.

Sony wants $500 for the 16GB version of the Xperia Tablet, which has a microSD card slot for up to 64GB of additional storage. The company plans to release the Xperia Tablet Z between March and July, and we’ll give you our full thoughts on the device when we get on in for review. I will say this, though: This is one of the first Android tablets I’d consider ditching my iPad to use.

This story, "Hands on with the Sony Xperia Tablet Z" was originally published by TechHive.

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