• Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact hands on review
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review

Big phone, small phone. Big tablet, small tablet. Sony's Xperia line-up is now all about choice. And if its only rival was its big brother - the Z2 Tablet - this impressive small tab would win hands down.

Slim, light, waterproof, well-specced and without the odd bezel-heavy build of its predecessor, it just makes more sense.

But is that enough to choose the 8in Z3 Tablet Compact when the iPad Mini, the reigning small tablet, is suddenly such amazing value? Sadly, not quite - but that doesn't mean there's not a lot to like here.

Fast and powerful with capable cameras

Stamina isn't the only area where the Z3 Tablet Compact excels. In fact, it’s hard to fault all-round.

Everything is fast and fluid, from multi-tasking to downloads to gaming, and its quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor performs nicely in the benchmarks, too. It scores 43098 on AnTuTU (above the Galaxy S5) and 2668 on Geekbench 3. Very respectable.

Both the 8.1MP rear camera and 2.3MP front cam shoot clear, bright video and stills, as you’d expect, though the snappers aren’t as fast or as sharp as the Xperia Z3’s At this small and light size the Tablet Compact isn’t too silly if your smartphone battery has gone kaput. There’s also lots of modes to play with including Vine built into the camera app and blogger-friendly live to YouTube streaming.

The well disguised stereo speakers on the front of the tablet sound crisp and loud too - nothing to trouble the HTC One M8 for on-the-fly tunes but certainly an improvement on most phones and tablets including the iPad Mini.

A Mild Case of iPad App Envy

Still, the Z3 Tablet Compact isn’t really competing on components. The iPad’s superior selection of optimised apps together with the gorgeous, still unrivalled, design and build is what has set it apart for years.

Here, the Play Store has made progress with big names cleaning up once-embarrassing Android tablet apps but the issue hasn't gone away and there’s not a huge amount Sony itself can do. There are still lots of developers who are content to produce a single Android version of an app that's then simply scaled to fit the screen with often ugly results, and plenty more that prioritise iOS development, leaving Android users with a frustratingly long wait for optimisation and new features.

Samsung offers tons of freebies and subscriptions with its Tab S tablets, which is one way of distracting users from shiny new iPad apps. The fact remains that if you aren’t bound to Android in your choice of tablet, the RM969 iPad Mini 2 is better value than both the Samsung and the Sony thanks, in part, to better apps and games.

The one feature that the iPad Mini will never offer is PS4 game streaming. It’s an interesting move but not quite flawless enough.

The only tablet that can play PS4 games

This is the same in-home game streaming tech found on the PS Vita, and the Z3 Tablet Compact makes a tidy set-up with Sony's mount accessory and a DualShock 4 controller (a DualShock 3 will also work).

On a local network the Z3 Tablet Compact connects without issue and connecting your controller is a doddle. It looks really nice, too, even on the Standard Video Quality setting.

You're obviously not getting the PS4's 1080p native resolution, but because of the relatively small and capable screen it looks sharp and pretty detailed.

There is lag, though. There’s just half a second of delay, and for certain types of games it will be unnoticeable or at least insignificant enough to ignore.

But competitive multiplayer and games that require precision could be rather frustrating if played through the tablet. There’s a fair bit of stutter to fast movement at times, too - especially when there’s a particularly large amount of onscreen action.

Of course, one of the most exciting possibilities of Remote Play is the ability to play PS4 games when away from home, but you need a seriously solid data connection for that. Think of it more as an at-home 

READ MORE: Long term PS4 review 

Is this the perfect tablet for gamers?

In some ways it’s mighty impressive that PS4 Remote Play works and is usable at all on the Tablet Compact, but I’d see this as something I would use very rarely - those times that I absolutely had to play something and for whatever reason absolutely couldn’t use the telly.

I was mighty excited about Remote Play on the Z3 Tablet Compact but having now used it a fair bit I don't think it's reason alone to buy this tablet over a rival.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Verdict

Convincing people they need an Android tablet - let alone a premium one - is no easy task.

But the Z3 Tablet Compact is a lovely thing. It's a slim, light and reliable couch or commute companion. The screen looks brilliant despite being "only" Full HD. The waterproofing may sway people away from choosing an iPad Mini.

That RM1699 price is seriously steep, especially in light of the cheaper iPad Mini 2. But it puts the Sony on a level with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and despite the fact that these two are so similar (both portable, both expandable, both running KitKat) the waterproofing and extra battery life just swing it for us.

It’s a close call but if Samsung's software puts you off a Tab S or your gamer eyes light up at the mention of PS4 Remote Play on a tidy Sony tab, this 8in Xperia might be the right tablet for you.

READ MOREThe ten best tablets - tested and rated by Stuff 

Stuff says... 

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review

As portable as it is powerful, the Z3 Tablet Compact proves Sony tabs can be easy to live with
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact hands on review
Good Stuff 
Neat little movie tab
Great battery life
Expandable storage
Bad Stuff 
You can get an iPad Mini 2 for RM969
Not all Android apps are optimised
Sony pushes some services