R. Ocampo on Amazon
6 years ago
12/19/2015, 01:06 AM
Bright 2K Screen with Lag-free PS4 Remote Play Feature Marred by a Plastic Shell and Android OS not tablet ready
First things first I was expecting to receive a WiFi/LTE version because that's what the heading originally stated:
"Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet 10.1" 32 GB GSM/LTE - Black (U.S. Warranty) with Bluetooth Keyboard"
When I received the package it was a WiFi-only product which I promptly contacted Amazon and seeing that there are also some reviewers of this product whom incorrectly thought they were buying the WiFi/LTE version, but received the WiFi only version.
Now I see the heading was corrected to read:
"Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet 10.1" 32 GB - Wifi Only - Black (U.S. Warranty) with Bluetooth Keyboard"
Now on to the show...
With that said, the product is surprisingly slim just like the iPad Air 2. But unlike the iPad Air 2, it's lighter. And rightly so because Sony has decided to encase their for now flagship tablet in plastic while Apple has continued with their aluminum case. The difference in looks and feel is like night and day. One feels and looks premium ready to party at the Shangri-La Hotel, while the other is all casual and ready to check in at the Holiday Inn.
And that's a shame because with all the equipped features of the Z4, it could have leveled with the Air 2 in all aspects. For one the bigger, and brighter screen of the Z4 has an aspect ratio of 16:9 ready for your 2K HDTV viewing.
There is one single metal button that Sony Xperia models are known for and that's the elegant looking power button on the side. Oddly enough they followed it up with an invisible set of volume buttons. Once you get used to its placement, it's no issue. But why not two more metal buttons to make it stand out like a pair of silver cufflinks on your crisp black or white suite.
I don't like taking photos with a tablet and look like an odd tourist strolling around town than a proper camera, but it does come equip with an 8MP rear camera that could capture 1,080p video at 30fps. Then just like that it's followed by a weak 1.2MP front camera.
Battery life is supposedly at an impressive 17 hours, but I didn't care to push it to it's limit. Through intermittent use of surfing and videos it lasted me from night to day with plenty of juice left. At 2K viewing, that's all that matters.
The 8-core processor at 64-bit processing makes it a strong contender in the Android tablet world. And that's a shame because although I don't have any issues with the Android OS including being present on my Sony XBR TV, it isn't specifically built for tablet performance the way Apple builds their iOS including the latest iOS 9 capability of split-screen multi-tasking to harness the screen real estate. Sony is dependent on the Android performance which is a bit messy and slow for tablets that it's practically killing the performance leading feature of the Xperia Z4. So the Apple iPad devices even if they are lower in spec, still feels faster and operates sleeker. It's an obvious given when you build the hardware and software in house rather than depend on someone else's OS.
HI-RES AUDIO and DSEE HX
I'm ecstatic Sony has jumped on the Hi-Resolution Audio format which means music is sampled at 96kHz/24bit versus CD-quality of 44.1kHz/16bit. This means the music is closer to the original analog sound with higher detail which usually is lost during the analog to digital conversion at lower sample rates.
I haven't tested this out yet by downloading or streaming lossless files at 96kHz.
What I did test is the DSEE HX technology which supposedly upscales lower sampled files to try and match the lossless sound quality. I put on my usual go to Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones and played tracks from my own collection and also from my Spotify Premium Account and went back and forth with the Z4 and my iPhone.
The Z4 tablet hands down creates a warmer sound signature. The problem is the volume isn't loud enough or probably can't drive the measly headphones which the iPhone had no problem pumping the audio levels. I was even greeted with a warning for the Z4 that the volume may be damaging to my hearing which isn't even close to the volume capable for the iPhone and just dismissed the warning.
So I'm all for the high resolution audio, but I also feel Sony has again missed the boat by not equipping with a capable internal amplifier to help drive a variety of headphones that people with $200 and up headphones will want to plug into the tablet to utilize the technology.
WHERE IT SHINES
Where it shines is the PS4 Remote Play. I have a Netgear X6 R8000 AC3200 router and I didn't experience any noticeable lag in gaming with the PS4 connected via wired ethernet and the Sony Xperia Z4 on WiFi. Controls were almost instantaneous and I could free up my TV while my kid uses the playstation at his room all wirelessly.
Even if you're in an Apple OS ecosystem, this will be the primary reason why you would want to get a Z4 for it's fall in love 2K display coupled with the PS4 Remote Play feature.
The package includes the Sony BKB50 Bluetooth keyboard built specifically for the Z4. It's perfect in some ways and makes the tablet look like a mini laptop, if this is your aim. Pairing was fast and trouble-free. I didn't mind the compact keys and got used to it pretty quick. But then again, it's practically the same weight as the tablet which then effectively makes the tablet twice as heavy together. Again, I didn't mind if I wanted a tablet and mini laptop altogether. If you just want a tablet, then you will want to buy the slim Sony case for the Z4.
Since both tablet and keyboard has built in rechargeable batteries, it's a bit odd that Sony only included one charger and no ability to dual charge at the same time for, you know, convenience. It's these misses in details that mar the tablet from overtaking the iPad Air 2.
And that's a shame because with all the fault of the Android still not being worthy as a tablet OS, I was okay in overlooking except the shortcomings in build and accessories is also glaring.