Hands on review: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet, the ludicrously thin waterproof tablet

We take a deep dive into the world's skinniest, lightest waterproof tablet

There are footnotes on the footnotes on the documentation for the Xperia Z2 Tablet, but we can well believe that it’s the world’s slimmest and lightest waterproof tablet. What’s more, we’re happy to report that even in the company of slim and light non-waterproof tablets, the Z2 Tablet is still slim and light. We know, because we’ve had our hands on it. Yes, already.

Design: the mnemonic is ‘splishy-splashy, not bishy-bashy’

The term ‘waterproof tablet’ conjures an image of something military that requires a Humvee support vehicle and four steroidal action-geek operators. And then you pick up the new Z2 Tablet – which is demonstrably waterproof and yet feels like a sliver of layered butterfly dreams – and experience a moment of disbelief. And then you remember: waterproof, yes, but not shockproof. Have a herbal bath with it, by our leave, but don’t take it into a firefight. Heck, a particularly rambunctious streamed episode of Jackass would shatter this slab into a thousand pieces of sharp regret. (Then again, Jackass will do the same to your intellect, so can’t be recommended on any level.)

Sony’s OmniBalance design is present on all faces of the Z2: slick Gorilla Glass panels, with metallic edges and that distinctive centrally placed power button. Anyone who didn’t get on with the ergonomics of its predecessor, or its Z-series smartphone cousins – some find the thin, shiny design ungraspable – will not find new favour with this. We wouldn’t call it a deal-breaker – you could always employ some strategic Sugru.

Screen: the numbers remain the same

Slimmer and lighter the Z2 might be, but Triluminos delights are still there to see. (There endeth the rhyme, we simply haven’t the time.) The Tablet also gets the Live Colour LED tech that the new Z2 smartphone has been crowing about – a prosumer’s dream of red and green phosphor and blue LEDs and custom colour filters.

The net result should be bouncy, vibrant colours that stop short of the stark unrealism of some OLED screens. The truth of the matter will have to wait until we can try out a Z2 under test conditions. The harsh fluorescent light of Sony’s London offices just wouldn’t be representative for the, frankly huge, percentage of you that don’t live in Sony’s London offices. That said, we also got the chance to try out the Z2 Tablet’s compatibility with a Dualshock 3 Playstation pad and in that gaming situation, where you want the dynamics ramped up to max, the results were very impressive. 

More after the break...

Accessories: bring the noise

A PS3 pad isn’t the only friend you’ll want for your Z2 – tablets cry out for add-ons that can make them more productive or more entertaining. First up is the BSC10 Bluetooth Speaker Dock that also charges your tab via the magnetic connection on its longer side. Whilst it’s docked, you’ll want the BRH10 Bluetooth Remote, which can control media and also act as a wireless handset for Skype calls and whatnot. Though if your teenagers catch you doing this – apparently using the remote as a telephone – it’ll be months before they let you forget it. They’re just jealous, you zeitgeister.

Finally, come Sunday night’s pre-work panic, you’ll be reaching for the BKC50BT Bluetooth Keyboard Cover. The removable keyboard part is super-slim but it’s made of metal, with enough of a throw to the keys to be workable.

Audio: turn that sound frontside down

Away from your speaker dock, your aural experience should be enhanced by the new positioning of the Z2’s speakers, brought round from the sides to the front of the tablet. They seemed powerful enough, though such a think device is never going to generate much in the way of bass. No, on Triphop Tuesdays you’ll want to plug in the headphones, and nothing will distract you from your Megabass Mash-Up because of the new built-in noise-cancelling tech. It only works with the Sony MDR-NC31EM earphones that come bundled, mind you, but work it does. There are various settings for your expected background noise scenario – transport, office, etc. – then the microphones in the earphones do the rest.

Initial Verdict

Slimmest, lightest, waterproofist – the Z2 Tablet is dripping with accolades, and we could keep going. It has the new Snapdragon 801 2.3GHz chipset, it’ll come with six free films from Sony’s cloud store, it has a 6000mAh battery… all this and it truly feels incredulously thin and weighs just 440g. The only thing preventing it from being the best Android tablet ever are going to be the cost, and that the marketplace for best Android tablets ever is increasingly crowded. We’ll be able to narrow it down a bit when we get a Z2 Tablet to test in April. Until then, you’ll have to find your own amusement in the bath.

READ MORE: Mobile World Congress 2014 – the biggest MWC smartphone news so far

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