Sony's Android tablets have always been well received, but they haven't come close to reaching Samsung's volume. Granted, they sell one model at a time, while Samsung has several, but we've always felt Sony needed a little something more to capture more of the hot tablet market. This time, they've done it right: gone is the taco shell design and Sony's doing what they do best: making computing devices that are significantly thinner and lighter without sacrificing features. The tablet has very good computing power with a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Pro quad core CPU and 2 gigs of RAM that feels fast and benchmarks well.
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z looks like an oversized Xperia Z smartphone, but it's even thinner. The tablet is a crazy 0.27" (6.9mm), making it the thinnest tablet currently on the market. It's also remarkably light at 1.09 pounds. While I haven't felt current tablets are too thin, I do find 10" models too heavy to comfortably hold for an hour. The Xperia Tablet Z is trivial to hold and it makes the iPad with Retina Display feel like a boat anchor. Like the Xperia Z phone, the design language is modern and minimal; perhaps too minimal. It's a straight-sided super-thin rectangle that's available in black for the $499 16 gig model and your choice of black or white for the $599 32 gig model. Both colors are matte and the back panel is plastic, though it doesn't look cheap and there's no flex. That said, it's not an expensive looking tablet either, and it may not make you scream with gadget lust when you see it in person. Once again like the Z phone, the tablet is waterproof to 3 feet deep for up to 30 minutes and dust proof. I washed it in the kitchen sink...really.
We look at the US version, which is WiFi only. It has a full HD 1920 x 1200 Mobile Bravia 2 display that's absolutely lovely. Colors are rich and natural and blacks are pleasingly deep. It's a much better display than the Xperia Z phone's display for black levels and viewing angles. The Sony Xperia Tablet Z has dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and a GPS with GLONASS. There's a front 2MP video chat camera and a rear 8.1MP camera with Sony's Exmor R sensor and HDR but no flash. It can shoot 1080p video and offers image stabilization. This is definitely a better than average tablet camera, though it doesn't impress us as much as the Z smartphone's shooter.
Sony's Playstation Mobile, Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited, Crackle streaming videos and more are loaded on the tablet. We particularly like the AV Remote that can control most any piece of home theatre gear. The tablet runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with Sony's usual tasteful customizations that include a quick mini-app launcher, quick access to the AV remote and an easily reordered app drawer. The tablet supports USB host OTG and it works with Sony's own DualShock 3 Playstation controller (both via USB and wirelessly via Bluetooth).