Perfect for the poolside
$888 (LTE), $688 (Wi-Fi)
Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (2.3GHz)
10.1 inches, 1,920 x 1,200 pixels
8.1MP (rear), 2.2MP (front)
16GB, microSD expandability up to 128GB
Value for money:
TABLET upgrades appear to have reached a point where the improvements seem incremental.
As with smartphones, every new iteration is lighter, thinner and faster. But none offers a compelling reason to upgrade.
However, the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet does have a unique feature. If you happen to drop it into freshwater that is no more than 1.5m deep, you have up to 30 minutes to rescue it while its waterproofing still holds.
This may give you the licence to use the tablet while you take a leisurely soak in the hot tub, but certainly not when you are out at sea.
As far as I can tell, no other slate offers such a waterproofing feature. But it is already a staple in Sony smartphones. As you are much less likely to drop a tablet than a mobile phone into a toilet bowl, the waterproofing is a nice feature to have, rather than an essential one, for a tablet.
The Z2 remains the thinnest and lightest 10-inch model in the market. At 6.4mm thick, it is even thinner than Apple's iPad Air, which is 7.5mm thick. Even Samsung's upcoming Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is fractionally thicker at 6.6mm. At 445g, the Z2 also weighs less than the 9.7-inch iPad Air, though you probably won't be able to tell them apart by weight alone.
It is refreshing to be able to hold a 10-inch slate effortlessly in one hand. However, the Z2 can feel slightly off-balance when held in landscape orientation, but the real problem is that you may hit the power button (on the left edge) by accident.
Another downside is that this ultra-sleek chassis flexes slightly under pressure, and makes alarming creaky noises when I shift my grip. I soon got used to this and realised the tablet was not about to snap in half.
With smooth rounded corners and a metallic finish on the edges, the Z2's design mirrors that of the Xperia smartphones. The back is covered in a smooth soft-touch material that feels grippy.
The Z2 is a smudge magnet but you can clean the marks off easily with a wet cloth or by dunking it under a tap.
Rubber-sealed flaps hide the ports and connectors and keep water out. The tablet has microSD, 4G SIM and micro-USB ports. An infrared sensor at the top lets you use the tablet as a universal remote control.
A magnetic connector at the bottom edge of the tablet enables it to dock with optional accessories, including a Bluetooth speaker and a charging dock.
The Z2 comes with a 1,920 x 1,200-pixel in-plane switching display. It has excellent viewing angles but loses out slightly to rivals offering screens with even higher resolutions.
Text still looks crisp, though the experience is somewhat spoilt by the thick black bezel around the screen.
The 8.1MP rear camera fares poorly in low light, producing grainy images. Sony's camera app comes with a few custom modes, including one that adds gimmicky augmented-reality effects.
The two front-facing speakers produce decent audio. Turning on Sony's built-in ClearAudio+ enhancement tool seems to give the audio extra clarity, though some users will probably turn their noses up at the processed sounds.
The Z2 runs the latest Android KitKat 4.4, but with Sony's own tweaks. Unlike Samsung's heavy-handed approach, Sony's customisations are fairly minor and even improve the Android interface. For instance, you can quickly sort your apps by alphabetical order or by how frequently you use them.
The Z2 comes with several proprietary apps preloaded. They range from the moderately useful to those that are simply a waste of space. And they cannot be uninstalled. One example is Sony's Video Unlimited streaming service, which is not available here but I just could not delete the app from the tablet.
Packing a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM, the Z2 has all the makings of a top mobile device. It certainly runs action-packed games, such as Blood And Glory, without a hitch.
Internal storage, however, is fairly limited at 16GB, though you can easily supplement it (up to 128GB) with a microSD card.
Battery life (video playback at maximum volume and screen brightness) was almost 11 hours, which is very impressive for a tablet of this size.
THE STRAITS TIMES