A SLEEK, PORTABLE AND WATERPROOF COMPANION
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
Sony’s Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is the company’s first foray into the 8-inch tablet category, putting it in the same bracket as the Apple iPad Mini 3, LG G Pad 8.3, and Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4. Sony’s OmniBalance design of the Xperia Z range has remained mostly unchanged since its inception. Fortunately, it’s a pretty good look and Z3 Tablet Compact carries it well.
At just 6.4mm, the Z3 Tablet Compact is remarkably skinny - in fact, it’s even thinner than the iPad Mini 3, and Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4. While its slender size does make it look and feel very premium, it does feel slightly fragile, and you definitely don’t want to accidentally sit on it.
The tablet is light too, and can easily be held onehanded for an extended period of time, as it weighs just 270g, making it 61g lighter than the iPad Mini 3 and 28g lighter than the Galaxy Tab S 8.4. Sony has been able to keep the weight down by reducing the amount of metal in the build. The Z3 tablet also loses the glass rear of its smaller smartphone siblings, in favor of a matte, textured plastic back. Like all of Sony’s Xperia Z range, the Z3 tablet is completely dust and waterproof, and is rated IP 65/68. That means you can safely use it at the pool - or even in the pool if you really want.
The Z3 Tablet Compact’s 8-inch display has a 16:10 aspect ratio making it quite a bit longer than it is wide. By comparison, the iPad Mini has a 4:3 ratio, which makes it a bit boxier. The 16:10 ratio makes the Z3 perfect for watching movies in landscape orientation, but content can look slightly stretched in portrait mode.
The display itself has a full HD 1,920 x 1,200 pixels resolution, which gives it 283ppi, lower than both the iPad Mini 3’s Retina display (326ppi) and Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (359ppi). Nevertheless,
while disappointing on paper, in reality the Z3 tablet’s screen is very crisp and sharp for its size, and honestly it’s hard to tell the difference between it and the iPad Mini 3’s Retina display. The display also has great viewing angles and vivid colors that rival that of Samsung’s Super AMOLED display.
Unfortunately, camera performance on the tablet is quite poor, with the 8-megapixel rear camera a big step down from the 20.7-megapixel shooters you’ll find on the Z3 phones. Additionally, like the iPad Mini, it doesn’t have an LED flash so you’ll have to provide your own lighting. The 2-megapixel front-facing camera isn’t great either; it’s just about acceptable for video calling, but that’s about it.
The Z3 tablet runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes Sony’s usual enhancements and add-ons. Sony’s standout feature is Remote Play, which links with your Sony Playstation 4 via Wi-fi and lets you use the tablet as a remote display. The PS4 still does all the processing, but it streams the content to your tablet display, letting you continue your game while your TV is off or being used for something else, when you don’t feel like getting out of bed or, of course, when you’re on the toilet.
The tablet is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB RAM. In our benchmark tests, it performed very well, outscoring the iPad Mini 3 and Galaxy Tab S 8.4 on most tests. Battery life was also excellent, with the Z3 tablet lasting over ten and a half hours on our video looping benchmark.
If you’re in the market for a high-end 8-inch Android tablet, right now, you should only be considering two choices, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. Between the two, the Tab S 8.4 has a slightly larger, higher resolution screen and marginally longer battery life. In all other areas, the Z3 Tablet Compact beats it. It has a slimmer, sleeker and lighter build that makes it more portable than the Tab S, and more importantly, it’s also fully waterproof so you don’t have to worry about using it at the beach or pool. Finally, if you’ve got a Playstation 4, the choice should be obvious - the Z3 has great synergy with the PS4 thanks to its Remote Play feature, and its 8-inch screen is just the right size for some in-bed gaming.
TESTED & RATED