Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Review

Introduction

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to experience (by experience, I mean use at a personal level, not one of those week-long review experiences) of a number of tablets including, but not limited to; the original iPad, Acer Iconia Tab, Surface RT, and Surface Pro.

So rest assured this review is a fair review and not a biased review. I maybe a Sony fanboy, but I don’t blindly buy products purely because they’ve got Sony-branded on them, nor do I get any incentives from Sony to review these products of theirs that I have bought myself.

Design

The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact being a member of the flagship Z series, follows the beautiful Omni-balance design language and is waterproof, but sadly it’s part of the 3rd generation line-up, thus the micro-USB port is hidden behind a flap.

Moving on from the Omni-balance design, there’re a few important design features that I really need to highlight in order to do the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact’s designers any justice.

When you hold the device, the very first thing you would notice is the feather-light weight of just 270g – this is worlds apart from any other tablets I’ve used/handled to date – a real pleasure to hold.

There’s a bit of a hype around bezel-less design and I’m super happy Sony didn’t go with a bezel-less design for the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. Because bezel-less design is only visually appealing, actual usability is terrible, if not completely unusable. The bezels on the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact are just right. They allow for perfect holding of the device in both portrait and landscape orientations.

The bezels allow for single-hand holding of the device without accidental touches to the side of the screen in portrait mode and when in landscape, where you do not have a ‘hand-grip’ on the device, you have just the right bezel size on each side to give you a ‘pinch-grip’.

Final point I would like to make is the size of the screen and the device. 8-inch is the perfect size for a portable entertainment tablet. 6-inch or 7-inch screen is too small – an hour or so usage is fine, but I wouldn’t want to watch a movie on such a small screen. 10-inch screen is too big for a tablet you want to be holding or carrying around, not to mention the weight.

If you doubt my observations, next time you’re in a electronics store, try holding a iPad Mini in portrait orientation in one-hand (very uncomfortable and awkward to hold) and do the same thing to a Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. Then try holding a full-sized iPad for more than 5 minutes, heck – you probably want to put that heavy thing down in less than a minute!

Performance

This is the department I was most skeptical about when buying the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, the device runs on a dated Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset. However, to my delight, I’ve yet to experience any ‘real lag’ and the only game that’s given me a warning that I might experience a performance hit is Collin McRae Rally.

So my final verdict is don’t look at the chipset powering the device and walk away. It’s a solid performer and unlike iOS, in which, each new release of iOS makes the previous gen iOS devices run like a dog. Android on the other hand, have been working to reduce the hardware requirements to run Android, and thus, with each new Android release, the performance has only gotten better.

To make this even better, Sony has announced that the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact will be updated to run the latest version of Android (at time of writing), Android Marshmallow.

Build Quality

Build quality of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is a bit different. I’ll say it’s different rather than disappointing, as I’m used to what has become a icon of the Xperia Z series design – both the front and back sides being made of glass. The back of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is made of solid plastic.

The other reason why I was tempted to use the word ‘disappointing’ to describe the build quality is the plastic back does not feel like premium plastic, it feels like cheap plastic. In saying so, the overall build quality is very nice – satisfactory – but well short of the level that I have gotten used to for a high-end flagship series device.

Audio

Something that isn’t highly promoted on the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is its audio capability. Like its other Z3 counterparts, it supports Hi-Res audio (note: your music files need to be in a Hi-Res audio format in order to make the most of this capability).

In addition to Hi-Res audio support, there is also two good performing front-facing speakers, perfect for when the tablet is docked on the desk.

Conclusion

Overall I’m very happy with the purchase and will happily recommend it to others looking for a super light-weight, sturdily built, portable gaming/entertainment tablet that can stream PS4 games.

If you’re looking for a productivity tablet, you should look at a Surface device.

Product Photos

Figure 1. Box sitting on top of delivery packaging.
Figure 2. Xperia Z3 tablet compact sitting in box after removing box cover.
Figure 3. Removing Xperia Z3 tablet compact reveals manuals.
Figure 4. Bottle of box contains micro-USB to USB cable and USB mains adapter.
Figure 5. Front side of Xperia Z3 tablet compact.
Figure 6. Back side of Xperia Z3 tablet compact.
Figure 7. Playing Hearthstone on Xperia Z3 tablet compact.