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Review: Sony's waterproof Xperia Tablet Z is bathtub-compatible

Jason Snell | June 17, 2013
It's light. It's even waterproof. And it's a serious contender in the 10-inch Android tablet market.

The Xperia Tablet Z's internals are bit more state-of-the-art. It's got a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core processor and the Adreno 320 GPU. Its front-facing camera is only 2.2 megapixels, but the rear camera weighs in at 8 megapixels. We're not yet at the point where you'd want to use any tablet as your primary camera, but in a pinch the Xperia Tablet Z's will do the job.

Xperia Z display
The 1920-by-1200 display isn't as sublime as Apple's Retina display, but it's still quite nice.

Spotty software
The Xperia Tablet Z runs a modified version of Android 4.1, and while it's not the stock Android experience that I'm most comfortable with, it's pretty nice. There's a nifty app dock at the top of the screen, where you can place commonly used apps, as well as a shortcut to the apps list. The entire U.I. and app experience felt responsive, though as with most Android devices I've tried, performance can be spotty-some apps scroll smoothly while others still experience lag and judder.

Sony has piled entertainment-focused apps into the Xperia Tablet Z. There's a connection to PlayStation Mobile, Sony's Video Unlimited store, and the Sony Reader ebook store. I suppose there are some people on Earth who live a Sony lifestyle and own only Sony products, but to me it's just corporate synergy. Fortunately, all the usual Google Play apps are there as well, so if you'd prefer to rent movies from Google, you can go right ahead.


You can't go deep-sea fishing with the Tablet Z, but removable port covers make this Android 4.1 tablet waterproof.

The Xperia Tablet Z comes with an infrared blaster on its top edge, and the included Remote Control app lets you program it. Building an infrared remote into a tablet is a great idea for people who use their tablets in the living room (I know I do), but this software isn't really up to the job.

Of course, all device settings default to remote codes for Sony-built devices, but you can control just about any device you've got in your living room. Unfortunately, when I tried to add my LG HDTV, I was prompted with a list of more than 40 device profiles to try, one at a time-and had to wait after every selection for the next profile to be loaded. There's no way to enter in your device's model number, and apparently no way to chain different device events together a la Logitech's Harmony remote. It's a shame-this is a fun idea let down in implementation.

 

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