Compact is an apt name for Sony's latest tablet as it is essentially a smaller 8-inch version of the 10-inch Xperia Z2 Tablet. Both devices are cut from the same cloth, following the design language used by Sony for its recent Xperia mobile devices.
At just 6.4mm thick, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is as slim as its 10-inch counterpart. Both tablets have identical round metallic power buttons. They are waterproof for up to 30 minutes in 1.5m of water, thanks to sealable flaps that prevent water from seeping in via their ports and connectors.
The Z3 tablet feels remarkably light. Its weight is listed as 270g, which makes it even lighter than the smaller Nexus 7. The back looks smooth but has a grainy texture that helps to prevent it from slipping easily out of your grasp.
Typical for a premium tablet, the screen resolution is 1,920 x 1,200 pixels. Viewing angles are impeccable as the display is of the in-plane switching variety.
To create a rich and vibrant display for this tablet, Sony has adopted the Triluminos technology from its Bravia TVs. While the screen looks overly saturated to me, those who prefer Samsung's Amoled screens may find it just right.
The Z3 tablet has a magnetic connector that lets it dock with an optional charging stand. Sony also sells a gaming mount ($48) for the tablet that attaches it to a PlayStation DualShock 4 controller. By activating the PS4 Remote Play feature, you can then use the Z3 tablet's display as a remote screen to play PlayStation 4 games.
While I did not test this particular feature on the tablet, I had previously tried it on a PS Vita and the experience was quite good, as long as the network was stable and fast. This should apply to the Z3 tablet, too.
The Snapdragon 801 chip powering the Z3 is no longer Qualcomm's flagship model but it is still a very speedy processor. Everything feels zippy and responsive. Apps open promptly and run without a hitch.
Sony has added some useful but light touches to the default Android 4.4 Kitkat operating system, such as being able to edit the settings in the pull-down notification shade.
Battery life is a whopping 13hr 20min, or about two hours longer than the 10-inch Xperia Z2 Tablet. It easily beats the 7hr 30min clocked by the iPad mini 3.
Prices for the Z3 starts at $598 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version. But I tested the $698 16GB LTE version, which is $30 less than the equivalent Apple iPad mini 3. Each tablet has its own attraction. In the end, your choice probably boils down to whether you prefer iOS or Android.
With its excellent battery life and razor-thin chassis, this is one of the best small tablets you can buy.
Price: $698 (16GB LTE, available from Nov 15)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (2.5GHz)
Display: 8 inches, 1,920 x 1,200 pixels
Camera: 8 megapixels (rear), 2.2 megapixels (front)
Storage: 16GB, expandable to 64GB
Value for money: 3/5
Battery life: 5/5
This article was first published on Nov 12, 2014.
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