Are you Xperia-nced?
Hey there, Tech Savvy fans! This week, as promised, we are going to take a look at one of the newer tablets out on the market, the Sony Xperia Z2, on loan from our friends at Verizon Wireless.
For those of you that aren't familiar with the Xperia, it has the privilege of being manufactured by one of the largest names in media technology. Year after year Sony has brought us quality electronics and multimedia tools and it was a natural leap for them to jump into the smartphone and tablet realm.
In reality Sony's entrance into this field isn't new, as they have had a number of different products hit the shelves over the years but the Xperia is one of the most feature-packed and fun devices they've come out with so far.
At first glance the Xperia looks like it might get lost in the crowd, it has the same "widescreen" layout that the other tablets have and its black casing is also fairly typical. As soon as you pick it up, though, you realize it's not just "one of the boys." Coming in at only a quarter-inch thick and weighing in at less than one pound this is the slimmest, lightest, waterproof 4G LTE tablet, according to VerizonWireless.com. It's 10.1-inch screen boasts a 1920x1200 resolution and the Wuxga Triluminos display really looks smooth. If Wuxga Triluminos throws you for a loop, that's the same technology that they use in their Bravia TV models, and those are certainly no slouch when it comes to picture quality.
Some of the other features are more of the standard affair - 8.1 MP rear-facing camera and a 2.2 MP front-facing camera, both feature a full 1080P for video recording. It has the versatility of other Android tablets when it comes to audio and video playback and media connoisseurs will not be disappointed. The Xperia also runs on Verizon's 4G LTE network and produces blazing fast speeds like you'd expect.
That's where many of the similarities end. In addition to the standard preloaded apps, the Xperia also comes with a suite of apps that help you tie your tablet to your Sony Entertainment account and your Playstation games. This can be a tremendous benefit not only for gamers who want to keep their same account and sync games, but also for those that have invested time and money into building a media library of movies and music. The sync up process was pretty straightforward and simple and the tablets screen quality was spot on. One thing that will catch you by surprise is the sound system, a "surround sound" configuration that you wouldn't expect out of a tablet. Granted it doesn't have the wires flowing out the back, or peripheral speakers, but the sound quality is surprisingly good and it was refreshing to not have the sound come out only one side. At the very least it makes it feel like you're listening in stereo again.
The access ports for charging, the Micro SD card and others were easy to access and easy to open. I often have a tough time opening the ports when they get so small but these were easy to manage, especially if you consider these ports help make the tablet dustproof and waterproof. According to Verizon Wireless, the Xperia is waterproof for up to 30 minutes in up to 4.9 feet of water, verified by Strategy Analytics in January 2014.
The Xperia also helps close the gap between business and pleasure. Not only is it a first class media device, it also comes loaded with the OfficeSuite Pro 7 apps. This makes it easy to incorporate office functionality into your tablet without having to try every other app under the sun - you just load your files and go.
As an office device it also links up with all the other standards you are now accustomed to using - Google, Skype, Dropbox, etc. Any of those programs you've become used to using are easily usable on the Xperia.
Here's another fun one for you too - built into the camera are some really fun augmented reality (AR) functions. There are some different settings that allow you to put a preloaded AR layover in your camera's viewfinder and then either take a video or a picture. Not really too serious, but the kids will sure have fun with that.
The battery held up surprisingly well. I took the Xperia with on my vacation and used it for entertaining the kids, catching up on emails and work and my initial thought was I'd use my iPad as my backup for when the battery ran out. Imagine my surprise when the Xperia's battery lasted for days. Granted, it wasn't continuous use all day but typically with most devices running video and games drains the battery pretty quickly.
Also unexpected - and IR (infrared receiver/sender) is built into the Xperia allowing you to use the included Remote Control app to control non-smart devices. I was able to easily pair it with some of my devices, and the ones that weren't preset, I was able to use the existing remote to "teach" the Xperia the IR command.
One thing you'll have to get used to is the headphone port is on the bottom of the device, possibly taking a cue from smartphones, but I'm not sure if I'm a huge fan of it. Holding it is fine, but if you've got it in a case, it makes it a little awkward. Granted, I tend to use my bluetooth enabled headphones now more than anything, so cording isn't the same issue it used to be, but if I'm on a long trip and my battery dies on my headphones, I'm going to have to break out the cord. Something to keep in mind.
The only other issue I ran into with the Xperia was that it seemed to not respond to my touches on the screen from time to time. I tried a number of different things to see if it was linked to a specific app or function, but it didn't seem to be the case. It was like the screen would detect my touch, but instead of realizing I was swiping or scrolling, it thought I was clicking. This happened most often when I was using YouTube. Web browsing seemed to be fine. I thought at first it was that maybe it was me - my hands were dried out, or something like that - but over the past 10 days it has been fairly consistent.
It isn't something that has been terribly meddlesome, but as I normally do, I would recommend that you stop into a store where you can get your hands on one to see if you experience the same issue. After trying different pressure levels on the screen and how I was using it, the effect seemed to improve, so I'm leaning toward user error on this. Not so much an error but that every device is different so there is a small learning curve in knowing how your device will respond.
The other possible reason for this, that I came up with, is that because this tablet serves as a gaming tablet, the sensitivity settings may have been tweaked to optimize the tablet for gaming as well as general use. Be ultra sensitive to taps and such would make sense here.
All in all the quality of the tablet was exceptional, the bezel bordering the screen made it comfortable to hold without a lot of accidental screen touches. It performed well and the apps, resources and speed were just what you would expect from a top shelf tablet.
Go check them out - this would make a great tablet for the student looking for a great multipurpose tablet, or anyone looking to upgrade. Stay tuned next week as we take a look at the LG G3 smartphone.