GADGET WATCH: Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Sony has been on a bender recently with its waterproof smartphones and tablets, and the Xperia Z is the latest in that trend.

But does it stack up? And can a waterproof piece of hardware be enough to convince consumers to hand over more than $US500?

Hardware and features

The Xperia Z features a 10.1 inch screen, featuring a native resolution of 1200×1920 pixels, and comes with 16GB of memory and 2GB of RAM, although a microSD slot is capable of housing another 64GB.

Other features include most common connectivity including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and a microUSB port.

The device itself is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor at 1.6 GHz. It also features two cameras, the first an 8.1MP lens, while the second is a 2.2MP lens – both capable of recording at 1080p.

What’s the consensus?

The Verge begins its review with a confession – in order to test the Xperia Z’s touted waterproof capabilities, the reviewer took the tablet into the shower.

After a few other waterproofing tests, the publication discovered while Sony says the Xperia Z is totally waterproof, it’s not exactly totally usable in harsh weather conditions.

As The Verge goes on to say, not all was well.

“I started submerging the tablet in the sink or running water over top of it, and it stopped being usable at all. In fact, some scary things happened: a stream of water constantly pressed buttons, opened apps, changed settings, and at one point actually deleted Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon from the tablet entirely.”

“The Xperia Tablet Z is not by any stretch a tablet you’ll want to use in the water — it’s just a tablet that can go in the water and not be totally ruined.”

As the publication points out, it’s good not to have a device that you have to worry about all the time.

“More often, I just appreciated the peace of mind of knowing that a drop of water from the sink wouldn’t ruin my tablet while I brushed my teeth.”

Engadget had good things to say about the tablet’s actual hardware design, pointing out the glossy black plastic finish, along with a nice grip on the corners.

It also praised the actual display, noting 1080p capability and a “substantial inch-wide bezel around the display”.

“Despite its claim to be the world’s thinnest and lightest tablet, the Z is still surprisingly solid. We’re relieved to say that Sony has improved on the early preview models we toyed with at MWC, nixing an awkward creak we found while handling it.”

However, the publication noted the camera performance was just “average”, and said it was a “little disappointed” with visible noise on several shots.

“Video capture is also a bit underwhelming, with typically overexposed skies and a scrolling effect kicking in when on-camera action went over a certain level.”

And over at Gizmodo, the publication noted battery life was especially good with Stamina Mode enabled, which allows the device to clamp down on certain battery-hungry activities.

Who’s it for?

The Xperia Z certainly has a lot going for it, with its waterproof construction and a smooth user interface. The build is solid enough that it’s good for everyday use.

However, at this price point, you’re still better off going with an iPad, which has a sturdier construction and a better build quality. If you’re desperate for an Android, this is a solid choice. But overall, it’s still not quite at the top of the pack.

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