Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review. Greatness delivered

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Here we are folks, the long awaited Xperia Z3 Tablet Review. First things first, why has it taken so long to get this review done?

It’s simple really. The first tablet developed a dead pixel line from top to bottom and needed to be replaced. I also decided that I was going to get a 4G version as there were some good offers around at the time of buying.

Design and Hardware

For those of you who have not seen my unboxing video that I did a wee while ago, here is the link again. It is worth a watch as it will give you a feel for the device.

The specs are as follows..

  • Display: 8.0 inch
  • IPS LCD,1200 x 1920 pixels, 283 ppi, Scratch resistant tempered glass
  • Processor: Snapdragon 801 CPU Quad-core 2.5 GHz
  • Internal Memory: 16/32 GB (I bought the 16gb), Micro SD up to 128 GB
  • RAM: 3 GB
  • 3D stereo sound, High Res audio, S-Force Surround
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 4500 mAh
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Rear Camera: 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus
  • Front Camera: 2.2 MP, 1080p
  • Android 4.4.4.
  • Connectivity: 4G, 3G, Edge, GPRS nano sim
  • WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Waterproof and Dust resistant IP 68
  • Dimensions: 213.4 x 123.6 x 6.4 mm
  • Weight:270g.

 

These specs make it a very high end device, and this particular model costs £479 on the Sony store. However, it’s worth checking to see if your mobile network offers it, as I would be surprised if they weren’t offering deals with data bundled in.

So a quick tour around the device and the first thing to notice is how slim this device actually is. At 6.4mm thick it is one of the thinnest tablets on the market and is thinner than the new iPad Air 2.
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It also weighs in at just 270g – again half the weight of the iPad Air 2. That is the last comparison I make with and iPad Air 2, I promise! When it was put next the Nexus 9 it came in at half the weight of that until you added the case, which brought it up to just over 400g. This is is still easy to hold for a long time if needed.

The top edge has nothing on it. On the right hand side is the 3.5mm headset jack, which supports the Sony DNC cancellation technology.wpid-dsc_2101.jpg

Next is the Xperia power key which is slightly raised and a design statement for the entire Xperia range. It’s really easy to locate and sits just above the volume rocker. These keys, as with a lot of the features, will be familiar to anyone who has owned an Xperia device in the last couple of years.

There is no camera button here, but that is understandable as it’snot really a key point for this tablet ….or indeed any tablet. This was the same with the Z Ultra. On the bottom is a flap for covering the microUSB port. This can be used, as usual, for charging and transfer data to a computer on the go. Finally, on the left, is the magnetic charging port which is really a must if you are getting this tablet. It makes it so easy to charge. Sure, I would have liked QI wireless charging but I can cope with this format.

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On the rear there’s the Exmor RS powered 8 megapixel camera minus the flash. You’ll also find that NFC lives here for all your NFC shenanigans, such as Xperia Link.wpid-dsc_2098.jpg

Up front is that display, which shares the relatively low resolution of some of its more budget-priced competitors such as the Lenovo Tab S8 – 1920×1200. Size and resolution is where the similarity ends though. The panel here is a very good one and it is bright enough for usage outside which is really important for a 4G-enabled tablet.wpid-dsc_2111.jpg

The Triluminos display really works well to make the screen an enjoyable viewing experience and I am as happy with it as I was with its predecessor, the Xperia Z2 tablet. I also really like the screen on the Z3 phone tpp. This uses the same resolution and the same Triluminos tech. As is always the case with Sony’s displays recently there is a bit of tweaking done via the “Reality Display” engine when using videos or indeed photos. Although I liked this option some will want to turn it off to give a truer reflection of colour.

Lastly we have dual front-facing speakers and a 2.2 megapixel camera which is suitable for Skype and Google Hangouts, but not much more.wpid-dsc_2053.jpg

Overall I am very happy with the screen. I was not that happy with the adjustment in the scaling of the icons on the UI initially, however I am starting to see the benefit of this in day to day usage. So, as the saying goes I have “got over it”. This does seem to be the way that Google are going with the icons. I’ve seen other devices like this including the Nexus 9 and will be seen on the Nexus 6. It would be a nice touch for Sony to include a tool to adjust this based on user preference. Just saying..

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I nearly forgot! The best thing about this tablet and one that again makes Sony unique in this area, is that the whole thing is IP68 rated. This means that it is both waterproof and dust resistant. Now I have tested the Z3 phone in all sort of liquids including sea water and when I say waterproof, I mean it. I am now trying to think of times that I would need a waterproof tablet? Answers on a postcard please!

 

Software

Sony have not really done a huge amount of customization to the UI. To be honest that’ll probably please a lot of people. Inside it’s Android Kitkat 4.4.4 but they have added some other extra “enhancements” to what was already a very stable OS. The main things they have done is added some of their own custom multimedia apps. Now usually this annoys me, but I have to say that the Walkman Player and the Movies app are absolutely worthy enhancements to the core apps such as “Play Music” and “Play Movies”. I prefer the way they work over the Googles offerings.

That being said, if you do want to use the Google services then you can do by all means. In-built into the Movies and Walkman Apps is the Unlimited Service in their respective forms. This will allow the user to buy or rent movies and TV shows and stream unlimted amounts of music for a monthly subscription (you can also pin albums and track for offline playback like Play music).

Another piece of software that is unique to Sony and the Z3 range is PS4 Remote Play. Yes, you read that right, you can now use your tablet as a screen for your console when your other half is watching Strictly (insert any other trivial show here). This is a huge feature for those amongst us that are gamers. I am not, so I haven’t been able to test this one fully but those who have been using it love it.

What else have they thrown into the mix? They’ve bundled Wisepilot McAfee and a couple of apps looking to get you to buy content from other stores (instead of directing you to Google Play). To be honest these things do annoy me and are resigned to trash virtually instantaneously. Track ID is on here, as is TV Sideview. Both are fairly useful TV Sideview is a companion app if you’re lucky enough to own a Sony Smart TV. Here s a wee overview of the software and UI..

Camera

The camera on the device is what you would expect from a Sony Tablet and it has not been improved since the Z2 tablet. It has a 2.2 megapixel front-facing camera, but don’t expect greatness when it comes to Selfies as they won’t be that good. Sony has always given more focus to the rear camera on their phones and tablets. I can understand the logic as it gives them a differentiator from the other tablets and phones, but the quality of the front cam is pretty bad.

Sony, we know you can make a good front camera as you have announced the C3, so let’s do it already!

The rear camera is useable, but chances are you will have a better camera in your pocket. I will not get into a rant here about that I have said my piece.

There are few new modes in the form of “Multi Camera” mode and “Face In” mode but otherwise it is what we had on the Z2 Tablet. Here are some samples using the “Multi Camera”, “AR Effect” and the front facing camera…

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Summary

Sony’s ad campaign is to “Demand Great”. I think that you could safely say that in the Z3TC you can demand great, and from what I have found in day-to-day usage those demands will be fulfilled. We do need to address the elephant in the room though, which is that this is my second device after receiving a duff unit. However, I won’t make any attempt to hide that fact the whole returns process was great and lived up to the slogan in the experience. I have complete and utter faith that if anything were to happen to my new device I would have a replacement promptly, this makes this a non-issue for me.

How does it compare with its rivals? It lines up quite nicely against the iPad mini (Retina and 3). In certain areas it is better and in others it is weaker. This is something that you will need to decide on as only you can know if you want iOS or Android. For me though the benefits afforded by the intelligent design outweigh the slightly better app ecosystem afforded by iOS.

So I would stay with the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact especially if you can pick one up on a data focused contract.

Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review. Greatness delivered is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

Gift Idea – How about this WikiPad?

Well now, I’m not totally sure on this thing. It starts off as a pretty decent cheap tablet – this is £69.99 and has a Tegra Quad Core CPU. There’s 16GB storage, 1GB RAM, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a 7″ screen which is 1280×800. It has a 4100mAh battery and runs Android (Jelly Bean) with a 2 megapixel camera up front.

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However, as you can no doubt see, there’s a slide-on control system so that you can turn it into a games console thing.

We’re not totally sure how well the gaming controller works, but it contains dual analog sticks, left and right fire triggers a D-pad and A,B,X,Y buttons. It maps touch controls to the physical controls and you can customize every button.

Whether you use the controls or not, it’s still an interesting package for less than £70. Pretty decent storage, good quality screen, quad-core CPU. Not bad. Head to eBuyer if this WikiPad WP005 Tablet tickles your fancy.

Gift Idea – How about this WikiPad? is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

Gorilla Glass 4 shouldn’t shatter when you drop your phone

Corning Gorilla Glass 4

Plenty of mobile device screens can easily resist minor cracks and scratches, but let's be honest -- those aren't the biggest problems. No, the real crisis comes when you drop your phone and the display shatters into many pieces. Thankfully, Corning is tackling that accident-related damage in earnest with Gorilla Glass 4. The newly formulated cover material is designed to survive collisions with rough surfaces, like the sidewalk. It's reportedly very effective, if imperfect. While conventional soda-lime glass will always break if you drop it from a meter (3.3 feet) above the ground, Gorilla Glass 4 will remain intact 80 percent of the time. You shouldn't be careless, in other words, but the added resistance could mean the difference between a costly out-of-warranty repair and carrying on with your day.

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Source: Corning

Jolla announce the Jolla Tablet

jollaCrowd funding is a great concept, from projects that can include a tub of potato salad right through to a flying bicycle there are some grand ideas out there that range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

One project that could certainly be viewed as promising is the Jolla Tablet.

Jolla are the Finnish company that produced the Jolla Phone running the Sailfish OS which itself was borne from the ill fated MeeGo project.

The Jolla Tablet then is a 7.85″ 2048×1536 330 ppi capacative touchscreen device running an Intel 1.8GHz quad core processor with 32GB onboard storage and 2GB RAM.  A 5MP rear camera is complimented by a 2MP front shooter whilst power is provided by a 4300mAh battery.  The ususal connectivity is provided including GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0

There is a Micro SD Card slot, Micro USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack to round things off.  All this is set in a frame that measures only 8.3mm thick,

According to Marc Dillon, co-founder and COO of Jolla,

After successfully entering the mobile phone market a year ago with our unique Jolla smartphone, we are now proud to introduce our next major project, the Jolla Tablet. Jolla’s independent open Sailfish OS with its cutting edge user experience works perfectly on bigger screen sizes, and we are super excited to bring the world’s best multitasking experience to the tablet size. For the Jolla Tablet we are partnering with Intel, to secure the best device performance, and reliability.

Provided that the campaign hits its targets, the Jolla Tablet shipments are expected to start in the second quarter of 2015 for the first contributors on Indiegogo.

So, fancy being a part of something different?  Early contributors (first thousand) can get in on the act for only $189 and the campaign is made available in all EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, United States, India, China, Hong Kong and Russia.

Full information can be found on the Jolla Tablet information page whilst the full press release can be seen below.

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Jolla announce the Jolla Tablet is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

Nokia reveal a new Android tablet – The N1

Nokia, yes, Nokia – not Microsoft or Lumia or anything in-between, have just announced an Android tablet.

It’s only a matter of months since the phone unit got sold off to Microsoft, but here’s there N1 Android tablet now that the company have regained control of the Nokia brand. Whilst Microsft are now running with “Lumia”, the boys at Nokia have today unveiled a 7.9″ tablet with Nokia apps and a 2048×1536 pixel screen.

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To be honest it looks a lot like another iPad. Sorry, tablet, and is made from one piece of anodized aluminium. It’ll run on a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor and has 32GB of storage, 2GB of RAM and two cameras – an 8 megapixel camera on the back and a 5 megapixel one up front. Not too shabby.

The N1 is 6.9mm thick and weighs 318 grams. Inside it’ll run Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and will run the Z Launcher that’s just popped up.

Made by Foxconn (you know them, they make a few other tablets too) it’ll first be available in China for $249 from February and then onto Russia and “selected European countries”.

More as we get it, but you can have a nose at the video below to see more..

Nokia reveal a new Android tablet – The N1 is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

Nokia’s return to hardware begins with the $250 N1 Android tablet

Rumors of Nokia's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Its lineup might seem empty now that it's relinquished control of its Lumia smartphones to a lumbering giant and gave up on those low-cost Asha devices earlier this year, but that doesn't mean the company's done crafting consumer gadgets just yet. Now Nokia's trying to revive its once-titanic consumer brand, starting with something a little... unorthodox. Meet the Nokia N1: a 7.9-inch Android tablet running some Nokia software that looks like a giant iPhone. It'll cost you $250 when it launches, but it's slated to land in China first in time for Chinese New Year (that's February 19, 2015) with a release in Russia to follow soon after.

Yeah, we didn't expect any of that either.%Gallery-slideshow244567%

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Source: Nokia

Jet-fueled electronics are coming

F/A-18 refueling from a KC-135

Fuel cells may be a practical reality, but there aren't many choices for the fuel itself -- you usually have to rely on hydrogen, which dictates where and how those cells work. The University of Utah may have a clever alternative in store, however. Its researchers have developed a cell that runs on JP-8, a jet fuel used by American warplanes in harsh climates. The cell uses enzymes to turn propellant into electricity without requiring lots of heat or a perfectly clean mixture; it works at room temperatures even when there's sulfur in the mix, making it far more useful than previous attempts at JP-8 cells.

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Via: EurekAlert

Source: University of Utah

Nexus 9 Unboxing

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It’s here my very own brand new Nexus 9 32gb Wifi. I have been looking forward to this day for a wee while as I loved my Nexus 7 (2013) edition and it was in desperate need of a successor. I have been reviewing a lot of tablets recently but this is the one I have really high hopes for. I have so far been a bit disappointed by the recent launches, maybe I have high standards though. So here we go let’s move onto the unboxing, first up here are the specs.

  • Display: 8.9 inch.
  • IPS LCD,1536 x 2048 pixels, 281 ppi, Gorilla Glass 3.
  • Processor: Nvidia Terra K1 CPU Dual-core 2.3 GHz 64bit.
  • Internal Memory: 16/32 GB (I bought the 32gb).
  • RAM: 2 GB.
  • Stereo speakers with Equalisers.
  • Bluetooth v4.01.
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 6700 mAh.
  • GPS with A-GPS.
  • Rear Camera: 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus LED flash.
  • Front Camera: 1.6 MP, 720p.
  • Android 5.0.
  • WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.
  • Dimensions: 228.2 x 153.7 x 7.9 mm.
  • Weight: 425g.

Now onto the unboxing video and what we are looking forward to more than anything.

So as you can see we have a device that share the high standards that we come to expect from HTC merged in with the design language from Google. I really like the way the device feels on the hand and it is going to be a joy to use.

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Stay tuned for more info as I get to grips with the new OS and have used it for a few days. We may have a winner in my quest for the best tablet for me. Time will tell over the next few days.
Cheers.

UPDATE – The tablet needs a software update out of the box so hopefully this is not a sign of things too come and is just a final layer of polish.

Nexus 9 Unboxing is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact unboxing and initial impressions

It is here. The day I’ve been waiting for. My newly acquired Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has arrived.

Although I had to wait a little longer than I would’ve liked (due to issues with the shipping companies), it’s here now. So, let’s find out if it was worth the wait.

Here we have the 32GB model, which came from Sony UK. It is selling for £379 but Sony are offering £30 off that price at the moment.

Let’s start with an unboxing video..

As you see in the video above, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is a neat little device that weighs next to nothing. This alone is a very impressive feat when compared with the likes of the Lenovo Tab S8 (I will be referencing this as a competition device a lot). In fact, here is a picture of them both side by side..

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You’ll see that there really isn’t a huge difference apart from the Z3TC (as I’ll call it for ease) being noticeably skinnier at 6.4mm instead of 7.9mm. Here is a breakdown comparing the tablets to each other.

Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

  • Display: 8.0 inch
  • IPS LCD,1200 x 1920 pixels, 283 ppi, Scratch resistant tempered glass
  • Processor: Snapdragon 801 CPU Quad-core 2.5 GHz
  • Internal Memory: 16/32 GB (I bought the 32gb), Micro SD up to 128 GB
  • RAM: 3 GB
  • 3D stereo sound, High Res audio, S-Force Surround
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 4500 mAh
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Rear Camera: 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus
  • Front Camera: 2.2 MP, 1080p
  • Android 4.4.4.WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Dimensions: 213.4 x 123.6 x 6.4 mm
  • Weight:270g.

Lenovo S8 Tab

  • Display: 8.0 inch
  • IPS LCD,1200 x 1920 pixels, 283 ppi.
  • Processor: Intel Atom Z3745 CPU Quad-core 1.86 GHz
  • Internal Memory: 16 GB.RAM: 2 GB.Micro SD up to 32 GB
  • Dolby Digital Plus sound enhancement
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 4290 mAh
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Rear Camera: 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
  • Front Camera: 1.6 MP, 720p
  • Android 4.4.2.WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Dimensions: 209.8 x 123.8 x 7.9 mm (8.26 x 4.87 x 0.31 in).Weight:299g.

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Having owned several of the Xperia devices in the past 4 years I have become very familiar with the Sony UI and its customisation. However, this time around I have to say that initially I didn’t like the high DPI being used. It’s forgivable on a phone as it makes the whole device easier to use but the same cannot be said on the Z3TC as it makes it feel “toy like” and it really minimises the amount of useable space on the screen. Particularly when using the device in landscape for things like web browsing. I would love to see Sony add an option to make this adjustable for the user without the need to root the device.

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The screen is as usual superb and what I have come to expect from Sony. This is perhaps one area where the Sony can justify the difference in price between the S8 and itself.
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Another area is the connectivity options. As you will have seen above the Z3TC has a larger capacity for expanding the memory. It also supports NFC for file transfers and contactless payment, if it ever really takes off in the UK.

Overall I am impressed with the device and I am glad I waited but is it worth the premium you pay over the S8? This is not something that I can answer right now as I have to really spend some time with both devices until I can draw my conclusions. In the mean time here are some comparison shots

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The Style cover
As an aside, the eagle eyed reader will have seen that I also unboxed the Style cover for the Z3TC. This came as part of the pre-order package deal. It is a fairly nice cover and it is a very tight fit. It covers all the bits it needs to and alleviates any concerns with carrying the Z3TC around day to day. The stand feature is a good way of propping the machine up for viewing content but it is not really suitable for use when typing.

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I have a Bluetooth keyboard case that I will be testing with the devices. This may improve the productivity, however I wish Sony had thought about this and provided a Surface-style docking keyboard as an option.

Keep it here for the Lenovo S8 Tab  and the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review over the next few days.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact unboxing and initial impressions is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

Oh no. Another great deal. Lenovo Yoga Tablet going cheap.

It’s that time of year when you should be thinking of gifts for others. Kids are making lists, your wife or girlfriend wants something “special” that you’ve “put thought into” but somehow you find yourself in the gadget shops on your lunch break, staring at the deals and wondering if you could “accidentally” buy something for yourself instead.

Perhaps, just perhaps, you could buy that gadget and tell your other half not to get you a gift this year as you’ve already got one? Perhaps you could say that it was a “gift” to yourself for just generally being brilliant? Perhaps you could hide it behind the sofa until the New Year and then claim you got it out the sales anyway?

Yeah, that’d work. Wouldn’t it?
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So, meet the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10.1-inch HD+, which you used to pay £329.99 for. It’s now down to (wait for it, wait for it, I need to add at least 30 seconds of unnecessary X-Factor-style suspense) just £159.99.

Stampede!!
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If you haven’t already tripped over your credit card, go and have a look at my up-close pictures of this thing from Barcelona. Oooh. It’s a bit sexy

This isn’t the newer Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 that James reviewed yesterday, but it’s still rather nice and has 3G too.

Available from Amazon this is a quad core 1.6GHz 10.1″ (1920×1200) IPS display) tablet with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 and that 3G connectivity so you can still connect away from your WiFi hotspots.

Powered by Android 4.3 it doesn’t come with the keyboard / cover we photographed earlier.

There’s also microSD expansion (up to 64GB), two cameras and a 3.5mm audio jack.

I’ve purposefully hidden my credit card, but if you fancy one, head to Amazon.

Oh no. Another great deal. Lenovo Yoga Tablet going cheap. is original content from Coolsmartphone.com