Sony makes Droids too
When you think of Androids and Sony, you the first thing that comes to mind might be this:
But, as it turns out Sony makes Android tablets too. I know, it was a surprise to me too. When you think Android, you probably think Google, Asus, Acer and Samsung. These are, after all, some of the most common names in Android tablet manufacturing. Still, they’re not the only game in town and the Sony Xperia Z is a device well worth considering.
Sony claims the Xperia is the thinnest 10.1 inch tablet and at just 0.24 inches thick it even outdoes the very thin iPad Air by nearly 20%. This is a good thing because thin tends to mean light. Carrying a 10 inch tablet can feel a bit awkward if it weighs too much, but here they got it right too, weighing in at just 1.1 pounds, only 10% heavier than the Air.
In practice, holding the Xperia feels a little more comfortable to me in landscape mode than portrait mode. This is in contrast to the iPad Air, where I almost always carry it in its more paper similar style. This is likely in part due to the fact that the Xperia does have a bit of a large bezel in comparison and holding it with the shorter end in your hand just feels more natural. It could also be due to the lack of actual physical buttons unlike the Air.
Of course, all of the hardware specs in the world don’t matter if the device doesn’t perform. Lately, we’ve been finding that the fragmentation in the Android tablet world can lead to subtle differences in how our and other applications perform. In general, we’ve found the higher the Android version the better the experience. The Xperia runs Android 4.3 which while not quite up to the latest KitKat level found on a Nexus device does provide a fast and smooth experience. I would be negligent if I didn’t point out that the device does score quite a bit lower than the iPad Air on some benchmarks out there on the web (scoring close to a first generation iPad Mini). The actual experience on the device itself belies those numbers.
Specific to Mi-Co and mobile form filling, the device runs our v9.5 software from the Google Play store efficiently and effectively allowing for a good form filling experience. However, the other attractive thing about filling forms on this device is one that’s not found, or at least not advertised, on many other tablets, is that it’s “waterproof”. This isn’t full on rugged, and quoting from Sony’s site the claim is “…can be kept under 1 meter of freshwater for up to 30 minutes in compliance with IP57”. But, that certainly should give field inspectors a level of comfort that if they drop the device into a small pond or happen to be using it while it’s raining out they shouldn’t have to worry about a dead device.
I haven’t personally tried the waterproof angle myself, but we’re going to at Mi-Co’s Mobility Summit. If you’re reading this and are attending, or if you’re interested in attending because you read this, please come on by. We haven’t decided if we’re going to dunk or spritz it yet, but either way we’ll see if it can live up to its claim and you’ll be able to play with a nice large screen Android option.
With the plethora of devices on the Android market, it’s likely you’ll have to try a few before figuring out which tablet will work best in your organization. But, if you have the opportunity, give the Xperia a try and you might find out that Sony Droids aren’t just for kicking soccer balls.