Sony’s latest Xperia Z4 tablet is a beast. With its 10.1-inch display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, Sony promises that this is the brightest tablet display in the world. Apart from its graphics, the tablet is running on a powerful 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM and Adreno 430 GPU. Its native storage capacity of 32GB may be expanded by up to 128GB with the use of a microSD card. The tablet also comes with a couple of cameras—an 8.1MP rear-facing camera and a 5.1MP front-facing camera. With its support for PS4 games, users of the Xperia Z4 tablet can easily enjoy playing their favorite games on the device. A Dualshock 4 controller simply needs to be connected to the tablet so they can already start playing their favorite games. As for nature lovers, the Xperia Z4 tablet comes with an IP68 rating, making it a dust and water resistant device. While the tablet is available in either black or white color options, it is also sold in an LTE version. Its 6000 mAh battery helps the tablet last up to 17 hours of use. The phone is pre-packed with Android 5.0 Lollipop OS so users can enjoy their favorite apps and games.
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For years, Apple has been king of tablets. That might be changing with Sony’s newest entry into their Android lineup. The Sony Xperia Z4 offers buyers an ultra-light, high performance tablet packed with extra features. Claiming to be the lightest and thinnest tablet in the world, Sony has targeted their new product as the laptop replacement you didn't know you needed, but how does it stand up in already saturated market and against the newer iPad Air 2?
Thin is a tech description often used too liberally, but the first thing to note about the Z4 is its incredibly light model. Overall, it is .3mm thinner and 7 grams lighter than the previous model, the Xperia Z2 Tablet. For a device sporting a 10.1 inch display, those are impressive specifications.
When it comes to holding the Z4, there are some features left to be desired. Fans of Apple’s brushed metal backing will immediately notice the Z4’s polycarbonate casing. While the plastic back gives users a solid grip, it leaves the expensive device feeling slightly cheap in your hands. The black bars around the screen could be a disappointment to some since they could have been made into additional screen space but otherwise give you room to hold the device upright without trouble. The rounded edges of the frame also make for a comfortable hold and give the frame a surprising amount of durability. It can be unnerving to see how much warping and bending the thin tablet can withstand, but despite repeat punishment, it maintains its shape.
While the button locations along the sides are an obvious upgrade from the Z2, the rough plastic feel and sensitivity of the volume control left something to be desired. You might find yourself accidentally pressing buttons while you struggle to hold such a thin device. However, the microSD port, headphone jack and speakers are all well placed. The larger port is equipped with a protective flap, allowing the Z4 to become a UP68 certified waterproof device; surviving for 30 minutes in up to three feet of water. Amazingly, Sony has constructed a USB port that does not require a protective flap. Naturally, this level of water resistance makes it dust resistant too. Altogether, these features combine to make an extremely portable and hearty tablet resistant to travel and mishaps.
Tablets are nothing without their display, and the Z4 delivers where it counts. An impressive 2560x1600 screen gives beautiful, bright, quality imagery at 300 ppi pixels, beating the iPad Air by 35. In fact, the Z4 can be turned up to 40% brighter than its predecessor all while maintaining the readability of small text. The front glass has been thinned down, helping to reduce any glare or reflection given off the screen. The scratch resistant glass is also outfitted with an oil-reducing layer, to stave off finger smudges.
For its size, the Z4 is a powerhouse, running on a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. The octo-core performs well without overheating, though users will notice the device heating up after a few minutes of use. It features an impressive 32GB of storage and with the built in microSD slot, it's easy to expand storage by an additional 128. At 3GB of ram, the tablet can run most applications and games, though it does suffer from longer load times than its competitors. Once the application is launched, the programs run smoothly but no faster than its competitors. However, the battery has received a significant upgrade over the 10 hour life of the iPad Air 2’s. Power in the Z4 has been increased to 6000mAh, sporting 17 hours of active, moving, streaming life.
The sound system has also received a sizeable upgrade. The two stereo speakers are enhanced with 3D Surround Sound along with Clear Audio+ software. They result in the best sound heard off a tablet to date, free of the echo and buzz of competitors. The advancement is all the more amazing given their waterproofing. The headphone jack is also equipped with Surround Sound playback.
The camera is decent, sporting an extra wide 8.1 Mp in the back, the standard on most smartphones today. Without a flash or light, the camera does struggles in darker lighting environments. The onboard camera app has some neat features to help but ultimately falls flat. The forward facing 5.1 Mp camera is also of decent quality but can make images appear flat and saturated.
A MHL port, 11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 complete the package. There are two versions of the Z4. The first is Wi-Fi only, and the second features 3G/4G LTE coverage, allowing it to be used as a phone.
While featuring its own unique interface, the Z4 runs on the new Android 5.0 Lollipop software. It comes preloaded with the Sony usuals, like Marketplace, Google Play and the Unlimited video/music store. The Xperia Lounge has received an upgrade, allowing cloud storage of video and music, along with delivering any software updates down the line. New features include Remote Play, allowing you to stream video games to the tablet using your PS4 or Xbox One, and a Microsoft Office partnership, bringing Word and Excel preloaded. Beyond these applications, there is surprisingly little bloatware fresh out of the box. If you are familiar with Android products, the menu system will feel natural.
While not included with the Z4, Sony is hoping their new tablet will be the light weight laptop replacement of the future. As such, they have created an attachable keyboard with Microsoft integration. The keyboard itself features a cradle for the tablet. It does not plug in, instead working entirely through Bluetooth technology. Once connected, the tablet brings up a task bar reminiscent of older Windows operating systems. This holds your pinned apps as well as a start menu. The keyboard size is surprisingly decent and will be comfortable for most users. The trackpad is a welcome feature, but it can be easier to just touch the screen. While undeniably useful, the keyboard has a distinctly cheap feel, and the weight of the tablet can overpower the light keyboard, sending it toppling back. The two pieces together will still weigh less than most other tablets.
It is undeniable that Sony has set out to make a competitor with the Sony Xperia Z4. With an expected price tag of over $500 for just the Wi-Fi version, not including the keyboard, it can be hard to ignore some of the blander design features, like the plastic covering, but the Z4 shines in functionality and hardware, sporting better resolution, brightness, camera and battery life than its competitors. The waterproofing alone could be all it needs to be the go-anywhere tablet of tomorrow, taking up no more bag space than a stack of papers.
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