Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact: Hands-On Review
With the launch of the 10in Samsung Galaxy Tab S, the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet finally had a realistic challenger to its crown of the best large Android tablet.
Samsung also launched its 8.4in Galaxy Tab S which I proclaimed as the best Android tablet on the market, but now Sony is looking to take that crown too, with the launch of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact.
First off, let's forget how rubbish the name is and concentrate on the device itself.
The Z3 Tablet Compact joins Sony's updated Z3 range, which also includes the Z3 and Z3 Compact smartphones, promising to build on the success of previous devices with better battery life, superior low light photography and the ability to play PlayStation 4 games on mobile devices for the first time.
The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact was officially launched at the IFA trade show in Germany this week but ahead of the launch I managed to get a look at the new tablet from Sony.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact: Design
Like the all Xperia smartphones and tablets, the Z3 Tablet Compact features Sony's immediately recognisable, fully-flat OmniBalance design language.
The tablet is unbelievably thin and light. It is just 6.4mm thick, and weighs just 270g. By contrast the Tab S is 6.6mm and 294g.
The tablet is finished in a matte black plastic, which feels great and despite the slim profile and light weight, the Z3 Tablet Compact feels premium and really well-built.
As with almost all Sony smartphones and tablets these days, the Z3 Tablet Compact is waterproof and dustproof but this clearly hasn't impacted its design.
Sony's Z1 and Z2 tablets were beautifully engineered devices and the Z3 Tablet Compact is no different - I just wish the engineers had had a word with the people naming the thing.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact: Screen
Some, including Samsung and LG, may going down the 2K route with their tablets and smartphones, but Sony says it doesn't feel the need to do so.
Instead it has put the same 1920 x 1080 resolution from its Z3 smartphone in the 8in IPS display on the Z3 Tablet Compact, giving it a pixel density of just 275 pixels per inch (ppi).
Compare that to the 360ppi on the Galaxy Tab S (8.4) and you begin to see what Samsung is talking about.
Sony told me it doesn't think it was necessary to make the screen resolution higher as it didn't think people would notice and it would damage battery life.
The screen on the Z3 Tablet Compact is not as crisp or sharp as the Samsung, but in my brief time with it, it looked good. It was bright and clear with good colour reproduction - with Sony's expertise from televisions clearly being a benefit here.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact: Hardware
Sony has put an updated Snapdragon 801 processor running at 2.5GHz in the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact along with a huge 3GB of RAM. As with the Z2 Tablet, the new device comes with just 16GB of internal storage, but features a microSD card slot which allows up to 128GB of extra storage.
One of the big claims Sony is making about the new Z3 series is that battery will be much better. The Z3 Tablet Compact features a 4500mAh battery which is smaller than the Tab S, but Sony claim new screen memory technology along with a more efficient processor will help provide more than enough battery life.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact: Camera
The Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact features an 8 megapixel camera on the rear and a 2 megapixel front facing camera for video calling.
Obviously this won't hold a candle to the 20.7 megapixel sensor on the Z3 smartphones along with their ISO levels of 12,800 but this is a tablet so it doesn't matter.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact: Software and PS4 Integration
Sony will launch the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact with Android 4.4 (KitKat) which will be overlaid by the company's own software UI, which promotes Sony's content stores.
It would have been nice to see Android L coming to the Xperia Z3 range but we'll have to wait a few more months for that.
The big update here is the ability to play PS4 games - something which will be exclusive to the Z3 range of devices for a while at least.
Something which is already available on the PS Vita handheld console, the system will allow you stream PS4 games to your Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact and play them away from your console.
While playing games remotely is theoretically possible, Sony is suggesting that the system is only used when on the same Wi-Fi network as your PS4.
Games can be controlled by a new PS4 controller which includes an expandable lever into which you clamp your phone/tablet.
While all the processing power is done in your console, the system will significantly drain your tablet's battery life Sony warned.
This could be a real selling point for the Z3 Tablet Compact, as people will be much more willing to play PS4 games on the larger 8in screen than on a small phone screen.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact: Price and Release Date
The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact will go on sale in early October in the UK Sony said, but it wouldn't give a specific price for the phone.
However, looking at the £400 asking price for the Xperia Z2 Tablet, and the £319 asking price for the Galaxy Tab S, I suspect this could be pitched at around the £299 mark, challenging both the iPad and Samsung's small tablet.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact: Verdict
Sony has produced what looks and feels like an excellent tablet.
If the battery life and PS4 gaming work as they should, the the Z3 Tablet Compact is going to be a real challenger to the Galaxy Tab S as the premium Android tablet of choice. Add to that a lower price and Sony could have a hit on its hands.
Now if only we could get them to change that name...