Earlier this year, Sony announced the Xperia Z4 Tablet, and while in many ways it was an evolution from the Xperia Z2 tablet it also bought with it a Quad HD display and a thickness that’s frankly a little ridiculous to think can be achieved. At long last, we have our hands on one, and while I’ll be working on a review to share with you all in due course, I wanted to share some first impressions.
Getting the Z4 Tablet out of the box and setting it up is perfectly easy enough, and setup is nice and hassle free. After spending just five minutes with it, you start to question just how on earth Sony managed to get this thing so damn thin. To put things in perspective, the tablet is so thin, that the headphone jack looks like it’s bulging out. Never have I seen a 3.5mm headphone jack look so massive. It’s thin, but the Xperia Z4 Tablet feels good in the hand, and it feels well made and solid, there’s a little flex to it – which is a good thing, if it didn’t, it would shatter at first fall – but I am worried about long-term durability, but then there are good case options becoming available. The soft-touch back looks good and gives a sufficient amount of grip, and the speakers sound pretty good, too.
So far so good, then. Turning to the keyboard and you can immediately tell that Sony didn’t think of this as an afterthought. The tablet fits in the dock’s mouth securely, but not too tightly, and you can close and open the pair as if it were a laptop. The keyboard – which I’m using right now – works well and while the keys are quite close together, you get used to things quite quickly. One thing I always question with these Bluetooth keyboards for Android is whether or not we need the F key row, two shifts and two alt keys. Sure, the two shift key thing sounds crazy, but if designers omitted things we hardly use or need we’d end up with more room for QWERTY fun. If you’ve ever used a Chromebook keyboard you’ll know what I mean. The inclusion of the trackpad here is a master stroke, and instantly makes the keyboard and the tablet much more usable. It can take a while to wakeup and scrolling is pretty difficult, but I am still getting used to things.
I’m coming from spending all my time with the Nexus 9 as my own tablet, and after some time you start to see how poor a choice 16:10 is for Android. This is not Sony’s fault though, as they needed to go widescreen for a decent keyboard, and I’m glad they did, but ultimately Google need to do better with their tablet software. Super-wide search bars and tiny home keys in the center of a display just aren’t great experiences, but at least this makes for an excellent movie watching machine, as the display is crisp and accurate in color reproduction, too. Typing on this without the keyboard is surprisingly easy as well, so there’s that to take into consideration, but I forgot how little attention Google pays to Android on tablets.
Sony have made some tweaks to Android as well. When the keyboard is attached, there’s a sort of quasi Start bar setup with a mini taskbar which reminds me of Windows 7, complete with popup previews and all. This is a great addition, and once I am more used to it, I am sure this will be one of the better experiences I’ve had while trying to get things done on Android.
I’m still getting used to things, and I want to experience this to its fullest before giving a final verdict, but so far I am mightily impressed. Of course, for the massive price tag Sony is asking for here, you would expect as much. The price has already become a sticking point, and after some time living with Sony’s latest, diverse tablet experience, I’ll hopefully be able to say whether or not it’s worth the asking price.