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The original Xperia Z helped to make Sony tablets relevant, but it had its fair share of shortcomings. The Xperia Z2 went a long way toward correcting them, but it suffered from a surprisingly mediocre display in comparison to tablets in its class.
Now, likely due in large part to the success of the Apple iPad Mini and Google’s Nexus 7, Sony has made the leap to a smaller, more portable form factor. The Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, despite the rather lengthy name, is a delightfully thin and well-designed product.
Unfortunately, as with its predecessor, Sony’s hard work is partially undone by a few key flaws.
At 8.40-by-4.87-by-0.25 inches, the 0.59-pound Xperia Z3 is marvelously thin and light. The danger with such an ultra-thin device is that it often feels cheap and fragile, but that is not the case here thanks to excellent build quality.
The soft matte plastic backing is pleasant and comfortable, and the thin metal edging looks and feels premium. The tablet’s also well-balanced and works equally well in portrait or landscape mode. The Xperia Z3 is considerably lighter and thinner compared to tablets like the iPad Mini, and the difference can be clearly felt.
One thing that makes the Xperia Z line unique compared to tablets in its class is that it’s fully waterproof and IP65/68 certified. That means all ports and connections are sealed underneath tightly fitted covers, and the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is no exception.
Along the right edge there’s a 3.5-millimeter audio jack, standby button and volume rocker. On the bottom, there’s a covered micro-USB port that doubles as a charging socket, and on the left edge there’s a docking connector as well as covered microSD and micro-SIM card slots.
Resolving the Details
Taken on its own, the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact’s display is pleasant enough. The 8-inch screen runs at a 1,920-by-1,200 resolution, and Sony’s Live Color LED and Triluminos technology makes for a rich, vibrant image quality.
However, a tablet comparison with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 or iPad Mini with Retina leaves the Xperia Z3 wanting. As nice as its display may be, it can’t match the ultra-high resolutions found in its closest competitors. The screen is highly responsive, however, and functions quite well even under bright lighting conditions.
Under the Hood
Though the display may not be world-class, the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact’s internals leave little room for complaint. Powered by a 2.5-gigahertz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset and three gigabytes of RAM, the Xperia Z3 offers a snappy and responsive experience regardless of what you choose to throw at it.
Games run smoothly and apps launch delightfully quickly. Storage is limited to 16 gigabytes, of which only about 11 gigabytes is available, but it can be expanded by up to 128 gigabytes via microSD card.
There’s no doubt Sony has made a significant leap with the Z3 Tablet Compact. It’s even thinner and lighter than the already impressive Z2, and many will prefer the 8-inch form factor to the larger 10-inch slate. It’s also got powerful hardware that compares well with other tablets in its class.
For some, however, the display will be the deciding factor. It’s certainly not bad, but it can’t compare to tablets like the iPad Mini with Retina and Galaxy Tab S 8.4.
The iPad Mini sports an attractive 2,048-by-1,536 pixel Retina display, while the Galaxy 8.4 boasts a gorgeous 2,560-by-1,600 pixel Super AMOLED screen that clearly outclasses the Xperia Z3’s offering.