Bonnie Cha

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Sony Xperia Tablet Z Set to Make Splash in U.S. This May

What a difference six months makes.

In late December, Sony introduced its Xperia Tablet S — an entertainment-focused Android tablet that was waterlogged with issues and a funky design. Needless to say, it wasn’t Sony’s most successful launch. But the company is hoping to make it right with its new Xperia Tablet Z.

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Announced in Japan in January, Sony today revealed at Mobile World Congress that the Xperia Tablet Z will be headed to the U.S. in May. The 16 gigabyte Wi-Fi version will cost $499; the 32GB model will cost $599.

Sony is claiming it to be the world’s thinnest 10.1-inch tablet; at 0.27 inch thick, it weighs just over a pound. It’s built to look similar to the Xperia Z smartphone both in physical design and user interface — something Sony wants to achieve with all of its Xperia-branded devices going forward.

The company is also trying the waterproof thing again. The Xperia Tablet Z can be submerged in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The display will also respond to touch even if your fingers are wet.

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Speaking of the touchscreen, it offers a resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels and shows 20 percent more color than the latest iPad, according to Sony. There’s an eight-megapixel camera on back, and a front-facing two-megapixel camera. The Xperia Tablet Z will ship running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but will be updated to Android 4.2 shortly after launch.

As with the Xperia Tablet S, Sony is emphasizing the tablet as a companion device for the living room. It has an infrared port, so you can use it as a remote control. A new app called TV SideView also gives you the ability to access program guides, search for content by voice, and share what you’re watching via social networks.

I got a sneak peek at the device before heading to Barcelona, and I was impressed. The design is beautiful, and the tablet was lightweight and slim without feeling cheap. Though I didn’t have an iPad to compare it with, the display’s colors were extremely rich and vibrant, especially when I compared it to the Xperia Tablet S.

I’m looking forward to spending more time with the tablet to see how it performs, and to compare it to the competition. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken notice of an Android tablet, and the Xperia Tablet S did just that.

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