Firstly, I’d like to apologize in advance for a certain amount of bias I’m about to show. I will make no secret that I am strongly of the belief that Sony make the best tablet devices on the planet. I’m not talking raw power (that title goes to Surface) but the whole package that they offer to end users and the innovation they install inside these slabs of glass and Polycarbonate. Now then, onwards…..
The Xperia Tablet Z4 is the best tablet on earth, that is fact, it is undisputed fact. To compare the Z4 to any other tablet on the market is, to be honest, pointless. No other device, not one, can offer the unique features of Z4 out of the box. While Sony seemingly struggle with hardware rollouts and certain arms of its core business strategy, they will always share key features amongst its product portfolio.
• Remote play of PS4 with 2K upscale.
This feature is only available on this tablet or a £1000 Bravia TV
• Hi-Res audio output direct from 3.5mm jack with DSEE upscale for all other formats.
Only Xperia devices support this, unless you want to pay £500 for the premium Walkman players.
• Direct access to your Video unlimited and PlayStation video catalogue
Your paid for movies off PS store are accessible from Xperia devices only (or that £1000 tv we talked about earlier)
Bottom line is, quite often, Sony talk about “One Sony” and how they want the different arms of the company to be more intertwined. With Z4, they have finally done it.
But Sony wasn’t just interested in a new Xperia tablet for the market, the hints are all there, the clues are in the product itself. Xperia tablets are the new VAIO gap fillers.
The tablet itself is much like any other Xperia tablet, sleek, thin, fast as hell and a design that is so simple, yet always seems to work. For anyone who hasn’t unboxed an Xperia before, honestly they just look so amazing as you open the box and just see that jet black slab looking back at you, so simple yet very effective (I’m sure @MI5 will agree). But, and it’s a big but, the Xperia Z4 contains something new in the box, something that literally gives new life into the tablet market, the Xperia Z4 comes with a keyboard. “Hardly groundbreaking is it” I can hear you all say. but again, so simple yet so effective. The keyboard not only allows the obvious text entry, but also has a trackpad with multitouch and force touch capabilities, the keyboard also unlocks a hidden part of the Sony Android OS, when it is docked a “start menu” or Apps menu appears, allowing you to customize and apply 3 rows of quick launch apps so you never have to leave the page you are on to open a new application up.
Finally Sony has filled the void left by VAIO being sold. Which brings about another point of discussion, technically speaking, this thing isn’t just competing with other Android or IOS tablets, it’s a worthy competitor to the new Retina MacBook!
Now, before all you iFans out there start chuckling at such a thought, lets break down the specs of these machines
1.1ghz – 1.2ghz (with up to 2.6ghz “turbo boost”) dual core Intel core M on the MacBook vs Snapdragon 810 MSM8994 with 4 cores running at 2.0ghz and the other 4 running at 1.55ghz on the Xperia.
A whopping 8GB of LPDDR3 ram sits in the MacBook, running at 1600Mhz compared with the 5GB less but more efficient 3GB LPDDR4 ram in the Xperia.
Apple stuck a minimum of 256Gb of storage into the MacBook and that’s no small figure, Sony stuck 32GB into the Xperia but for less than 50 quid can be upped by another 128GB or for 80 quid more can be level pegging at 232GB by means of SD storage.
Intel’s cack HD5300 is included in the MacBook, which only ever beats Qualcomm’s Adreno 430 when it comes to intel propriety image enhancements, the raw power of each paint a more realistic picture. 324-388.8 GFlops for the Xperia and up to 326.4GFlops for the MacBook. Simply put, the Xperia at its slowest rendering is only just weaker than the MacBook at full throttle.
Again Apple choose some stupid unique resolution of 2304x1440 whereas the Xperia goes full 2K at 2560x1600 and at the smaller screen size has a larger PPI at 299 vs 226. They both have led backlit glossy displays but the display on the Sony is so vivid its unreal, they have got LCD to the stage where black IS black and only in pitch black can you see any kind of difference at all and even then its hard.
MacBook sits with one USB-C port and headphone jack, while Z4 sits with one USB 2.0 so is weaker in that point, however the Xperia also supports Hi-resolution audio from its 3.5mm jack without need for external DAC and will also support digital noise cancellation in the port too.
MacBook Bluetooth 4.0, Xperia 4.1,
Wi-Fi, Both support MIMO Wi-Fi up to ac speeds.
Not much Gaming will be going on on that MacBook, with Intel’s 5300, its hardly a beast, realistically neither is the Xperia but it is noticeably more capable at shifting the pixels around, that added to the fact that the Xperia has Direct Worldwide connection to your PS4 means you can take the best gaming available with you wherever you go.
So, point made, while it wont beat the MacBook as an overall package based on the fact that the MacBook is a dedicated laptop, look just how close it is that an Android tablet can stand its own against “the best laptops in the world”, isn’t that just a little scary for manufacturers?
Guess I’d better start the actual review…
The Xperia Z4 Tablet is by far the most advanced tablet Sony have treated us to yet (no doubt 4k is on the 2016 horizon, but for now…) kitted out with the industries best components and some of the most innovative features consumers have access to. Whether audio, video, gaming or office work is your main use, Sony have delivered a complete package with each field of use being completely met, this tablet has been designed from the roots to be perfection for what you need, and then some…
The specs. (taken from Sonymobile.co.uk)
• 10.1" (2560 x 1600 pixels) display
• Scratch-resistant glass + Anti fingerprint coating
• 2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, 64-bit Octa Core
• Adreno 430 Graphics processor
Memory and storage
• 3 GB RAM
• 32 GB Storage
• microSD (up to 200GB)
Camera and video
• 8.1-megapixel camera
• 8x digital zoom
• Front-facing 5.1-megapixel camera
• Superior Auto
• Full HD video recording 1080 p
• HDR (High Dynamic Range) for pictures and movies
• Image stabiliser
• Geotagging – add location info to your photos
• Image capture, supported file format: JPEG
• Image playback, supported file formats: BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP
• Video capture, supported file formats: 3GPP™, MP4
• Video playback, supported file formats: 3GPP, MP4, WebM, .MKV
• Bluetooth® 4.1 wireless technology
• 3.5 mm audio jack
• Native USB tethering
• Smart Connect
• Synchronisation via Exchange ActiveSync®, Facebook™, Google™ and SyncML™*
• USB High speed 2.0 and Micro USB support
• Wi-Fi and WiFi Hotspot functionality
• ANT+ wireless technology
• Sony 3D Surround Sound technology (VPT)
• Clear Audio+ – Sound improvement software
• xLoud™ Experience
• Audio recording, supported file formats: 3GPP™, MP4, AMR
• Audio playback, supported file formats: MP3, 3GPP, MP4, SMF, WAV, OTA, Ogg vorbis, WMA
• FM Radio with RDS
• GSM GPRS/EDGE (2G)
• UMTS HSPA (3G)
• LTE™ (4G)
Microsoft™ Office apps
• Microsoft Office for Android™ tablet
• Microsoft OneDrive
As you can see, a bit of a powerhouse for business, as well as personal users.
Here be the box, and its a big one this time. Sony have bundled the BKB50 keyboard inside the tablet box in its own compartment, giving the tablet box itself a bit more depth.
And the assembled sexiness inside...
(you also get a UHC10 quick charger provided too from O2, not bad considering
1. O2 don’t provide chargers and
2. Its a £30 charger). Unfortunately you don’t get any headphones, but will take most headphones available and fully supports Digital noise cancellation and Hi-Res audio headphones too.
Powering on the Z4 brings up the usual start-up from Xperia devices as well as Sony’s skinning of the android setup, you also get chance to link the tablet to your Sony / SEN account so you can access your digital content from PlayStation / Video unlimited / Memories.
Once all set up you are treated to the familiar Xperia theme, its simple, its light, it works. Sony’s android skin is very light, being very close to Stock android but still with Sony’s own little twist on things
6.1mm is crazy thin and the 3.5mm jack nearly fills the entire width of the tablet, its stupidly thin yet feels very robust. With the same rounded edges as the Z3 and Japanese Z4 phone (Z3+) the look is fantastic and feels so nice to hold thanks to its light weight, so light it can easily be held in one hand. The overall size has been reduced too by removing a few mm from the bezels surrounding the screen, meaning the overall look is more streamlined and refined. I know roughly how big it is, 12”ish, I know this because the entire tablets frame fits within the display of the note pro 12.2
Subject to many, many, maaannnyyy internet discussions, Snapdragon 810 is the powerhouse inside Xperia Z4, is it fast? Yes. Does it get hot? Actually, no it doesn’t. Z4 has revision 2.1 of the 810 sitting inside it which is long rumoured to be cooler than revision 1 (which sits in such pocket cookers such as Z3+, HTC One M9...), As said, its fast as hell and can run multiple apps with ease thanks to the 3Gb on board Ram. I’ve not noticed any lag or slowdown at all, even when running full 4K videos (downscaled to 2k on screen), in fact everything on this is fast, responsive and just fluid with how it all seams together. The Tablet Z I had before was good, this thing is insane.
16 hours screen time, 16 hours. I’m not talking about 30% brightness rubbish either, I’m talking 60-70% brightness, regular usage. I don’t know exact what magical spells Sony perform on their batteries, but for some reason they seem to last forever. Just consider this for a moment, I have charged this tablet twice in a month, twice!. To use so little of its overall power, whilst pushing the 2k screen and 4 cores(of the 😎 is truly an amazing feat.
The display of the tablet Z4 is amazingly beautiful to look at, the first of Sony’s displays to use this 2k panel, it is truly astounding how vibrant the colours are, and how deep the blacks are. Using a 2560x1600 LCD with 130%RGB LED Liveview technology, the panel is not only colourful and crisp, but is also 30% brighter than the Xperia Tablet Z2, which tbh was as bright as hell too. Even with the higher screen size than the 2K phones we’re all used to, the resolution is still pretty damn crisp. Pixilation is non existent and graphics look pretty damn nice. I’d go as far as saying its the nicest display I’ve seen on a tablet.
Sony remain unmatched in terms of support for different audio technologies, while Apple mess around with 256kbps compressed audio, Sony Xperia devices support full Hi-Res audio (24bit 96khz) and can output it direct from the 3.5mm headphone jack. Not only that but they will take compressed audio and run it through the DSEE audio upscaler and output it at a near Hi-res quality by filling in gaps in the compression, this gives a richer sound and is one of those audio features that actually works, when combined with Clearaudio+ gives a really amazing sound experience. not only this but you can do it in perfect silence, as the Tablet Z4 supports the DNC noise cancellation supported in all Xperias since Z2, again a really good feature that just works.
Tablets hardly ever blow people away with their cameras, they just never seem to have top end sensors inside them. Probably because of how people use their tablets is exactly why they always seem to have lower specced cameras in them. Which to me is perfectly fine, there’s no way id ever take many photos on my tablet anyway, but for those that do wish to, the Xperia Tablet Z4 pack a more than adequate 8.1mp camera on the rear allowing multiple modes, functions and features you’d come to expect from a flagship tablet. Allowing 1080p video recording and multiple resolutions for pictures and videos. On the front of the device you will find a 5mp wide angle “selfie” cam for clear video calling using skype or the like.
Wouldn’t be an Xperia review without mentioning Sony’s ace up their sleeve, Remote play. An increasingly popular feature on Xperia devices, this allows users to play their PlayStation 4 consoles from anywhere on earth (internet connection required obv). This is done by streaming the video feed from the ps4 to the tablet, with the tablet sending the controls back to the console, brilliance it certainly is. I’ve used the feature loads since it first appeared on Z3 and its one of those things that has been tweaked over time until its current inception on Z4. By this time now you can adjust the framerate of the stream and the resolution quality, it really is nothing but a positive experience now and I often find myself playing games on the train or bus (I know @Toby is looking forward to the day he can take a commute whilst exploring the wasteland on fallout 4). Bottom line is, Xperia devices offer a type of gaming experience that is unmatched by any other manufacturer.
Not normally a worthy part of a review, I mean it is just an accessory, but this feels different, feels more purposeful and unique. The bundled BKB50 makes the Z4 into a perfectly capable laptop / netbook, kind of filling the void left by Sony selling the VIAO brand. It actually does a good job of being a standalone laptop. Upon docking it, its pretty clear the two devices were purposefully designed for making the Z4 a business users solution as well as an entertainment device, bundled with Microsoft office apps directly out of the box, there is a business or office solution immediately available to those who require it, I didn’t even think id use it as much as I have, even this being written using word on the Z4.
Sony return to 10” tablet territory with a bang, it may have been a subtle launch after small delays but its here, and its everything Sony promised and more. Not only does it up the ante in display technology, it adds function and purpose to the stagnating tablet market. In the age where Apple copy the year old Galaxy note pro 12.2 with the uniquely name iPad pro, and where Samsung are going all colossal with the upcoming Galaxy view, Sony have pushed into a new territory for them, the combi tablet/laptop, and it works. Once again I’m blown away by “the best of Sony” and hope there’s more like this to come...
The Xperia Tablet Z4 can be purchased from O2 for £31 a month here: