Announced at the same time as the Z3 and Z3 Compact, the Tablet Compact is a logical addition to the Sony range.
It takes Z3 specs in a larger form factor, to make it a tablet, but is smaller than most tablets on the market today, making it Compact hence Z3 Tablet Compact. When Apple clearly dominate the tablet space in numbers and demand and Samsung follow behind with more tablet choices than anyone can possibly understand; how does the Tablet Compact have any chance of standing out and being different? A black slab of high end engineering the Z3 Tablet Compact will look at home on the most senior of executives desks or on your sofa in your front room. At 6.4mm this tablet is impossibly thin and feels so in the hand. It feels like something you would be willing to carry all the time, and at 270 grams it is not all that heavy. I can see this being a potential alternative to a Kindle for some or a digital notebook for use in meetings. Of course being IP rated, resistant to water, the tablet can always go for a swim in the pool or lake or would even work when in the shower if you choose. The Tablet Compact has an 8” WUXGA display with a resolution of 1920×1200 pixels and a PPI of 283. The display also has Sony’s TRILUMINIOUS display for mobile and X-Reality picture engine to enhance everything you see on screen. The final results are pleasing even if the PPI is not as high as the Z3 smartphone. Viewing angles are good and when viewing back media and images captured on the camera in my opinion the results do not feel overly enhanced. Should it be required the Sony’s display can be shared with other screens via screen mirroring or via the MHL 3.0 video out. Such situations where this is useful is for sharing photos and videos or giving a presentation, all of course on a larger HD display. Like the phones the Z3 Tablet has the Android OS installed on the internal memory which leaves around 11.5GB available to you. Do not forget there is a memory card slot for that memory intensive content. Whilst version 4.4 is installed, it is not stock Android and Sony have put a few tweaks on top to make it their own. It is not as heavy as it could be, but established Android users may be a bit frustrated with the additions. Smart Connect is one of the more undervalued apps that can be of real benefit if you set it up correctly. AVG AntiVirus Pro is a nice to have as over the last couple of years more infected apps and content is making its way onto our mobile devices. Thanks to the wonders of technology and engineering, you can now play PS4 games that are sat on your console at home and play them on your tablet whilst still using the same games controller you would use with your PS4. For example, you are playing a game on your PS4 at home. You are kicked off the TV by a family member, but you still want to play. Take your PS4 controller, attach the optional Sony GCM10 game controller mount, attach it to the controller and dock the Z3 Tablet Compact and play that very same game you were playing moments ago on the tablet. Known as Remote PLAY, runs over WiFi and the processing of the game is all done on the PS4. The quality of the game is downscaled to boost performance, but we can live with that! Powered by a 2.5GHz quad core processor and supported by 3GB of RAM, you will unlikely find the Z3 Tablet lagging or struggling to complete the requests you ask of it. From gaming to mobile office documents it is suitable for all of this. If you have never handled an Android Tablet or phone then it is worth noting that there is lots of scope with what you can do. There are hundreds of thousands of apps available from the Google Play Store, many of which are free. Download and install to expand the capabilities and personalise your device and make it more suitable and applicable to you. If you have a Google account then setup is simple. Add your social media accounts or even your Microsoft Exchange work email all within a matter of minutes. Like their phones, Sony has continued to offer some other value add features to the Z3 Tablet Compact. Swipe down from the top of the screen and be presented with the notification shade which is split into ‘notifications’ and ‘quick settings’. All your key notifications will show here but you also have access to key settings of your choice. Press and hold the running apps key to see your running apps but to also access the ‘small apps’. Apps such as a calculator, stopwatch, sound recorder and screen capture tool are present and more are available online. These sit in windows on top of what you are doing and can be moved about on screen and retain their position even as the tablet is being used in the background. Sony have also added a screen recording feature which can be particularly handy if you are demonstrating or wish to show someone something. Press the power button, select ‘Record Screen’ and you are away. At the end you have a video file you can send to someone. There are two options in terms of hardware with this tablet. There is the WiFi only option and the cellular option which has WiFi as well as 4G connectivity. With the use of a SIM card, the Z3 Compact Tablet with cellular function can be online almost anywhere in the world. There is good support for frequencies too. And should you so choose, you could make normal phone calls and send text messages with this. Unless you are particularly socially comfortable a Bluetooth headset might be the best bet. Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, DLNA, NFC, USB hosting, GPS & GLONASS are all present. I have never personally felt the need to blast audio from the speakers of my tablet, but should you do this or have the need to then the Sony Z3 Tablet Compact packs quite a punch. Barely noticeable on the device, not only are the stereo speakers loud they are clear too which is great and to my ears the sounds seem quite balanced. The same can be said when you connect a set of headphones. Like the Z3 and Z3 Compact the tablet has DSEE HX (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) and Hi-Res Audio. All of these elements together make movie and video playback really quite enjoyable on the tablet. It would have been nice if rather than only an 8 megapixel camera with no flash, Sony included the 20.7 megapixel found on the Z3. Whilst for many the need for such on a tablet is limited, this tablet is Compact and is more passable for taking a picture in public on than an iPad or the larger Z2 tablet. It is also what makes the Z series stand out. For the few extra pounds it would have cost, I personally believe it would have gone a long way to keep this in sync with the Xperia Z3 family. The actual image results are not awful from the 8 megapixel, in fact some come out surprisingly well in the right lighting conditions. However the lack of flash and extra detail that comes from the 20.7 megapixel sensor is noticeable. There is no dedicated camera shutter button, it is all done on screen and video recording is available at full HD rather than 4K. The camera has Superior Auto mode for point and shoot settings or there is manual mode along with a lot of other options like AR fun, Multi camera, Face in, Live on YouTube and more. Creativity options are not quite as great as the smartphone cameras but this is to a point to be expected. The camera does have 8x digital zoom as well as Sony’s Exmor RS mobile image sensor, so it is by no means short in functionality. To add a bit of fun, creativity and interest to some images you can use the photo editor which is on board and is nice and simple to use with a reasonable if not the most extensive range of options. This is too the type of device you would complete skype or conference calls from and the front facing 2.2 megapixel camera does a decent job of capturing a video feed more than good enough for most online chat scenarios. Packed into this super slim chassis is a 4500mAh battery. Whilst the screen is bigger than the Z3 smartphone the resolution is not much different so the power draw is not as high as it could be. Of course usage varies for different individuals and the 4G option will draw more power due to the cellular connectivity. With 2-3 hours use each day I was getting 3 days out of this (with no battery saving modes enabled) which is in line, with other tablets I have used, if not better. Sony have become known for their STAMINA mode on their devices and this is no exception. If you really want to maximise ever mAh from the battery, you can use this for maximum power conservation rather than maximum performance. Sony are bringing out a case for this tablet that will protect it and let it stand upright on a desk but it would be nice to see a case and keyboard combo to make this a really desirable solution for the always on the move business user who would benefit from a physical keyboard. At the time of recording he Z3 Tablet Compact is available for £330 including VAT as a WiFi only option or £399 as a 4G option, this pretty much on par with the Apple iPad Mini 3 and Samsung’s Tab S 8.4. Undoubtedly Sony would love for the Compact Tablet to be the ‘must have’ tablet over the next few months and see them fly off the shelves. I get the impression they are not aiming to achieve this. The Z3 Tablet Compact is a refined tablet that suits the needs of a select number, and of those that adopt it, they will enjoy using and living with this product not regretting their purchase. It may be a poor comparison, but the Z3 Tablet Compact to me is like a wine from a small but very good local producer. To those who know a thing or two about wine, they would love it and rave about it. But the less refined wine from big brands with their big marketing budgets steal the show when it comes to mass market appeal and adoption, because they can afford and do put it in peoples eye-line on the shop shelf. You could pick up a better quality wine for the same price, but because one is more heavily advertised the better product is overlooked. The Tablet Compact is light and portable and I could see occasions on which I would find this useful but its only a bit bigger than my phone and my 10” tablet at home is better suited when I want a larger screen. I do not have a need for one personally , but having spent a couple of weeks with it I am reluctant to let it go and would certainly be willing to recommend it.