Sony looks to ultraslim Xperia Tablet Z to rebuild its cachet

Sony once had a reputation for building premium products that rivaled Apple's

Sony unveiled the Xperia Z tablet on Monday, a 10-inch device that the manufacturer hopes will reinvigorate a reputation for building premium products that rivaled Apple's.

Sony claims that the Xperia Z is the thinnest and lightest 10-inch slate in the world. The dust- and waterproof unit is 0.27 inches (6.9mm) thick and weighs just over a pound (495 grams). By comparison, the latest iPad model is 0.37 inches thick and weighs 1.46 pounds.

The Xperia Z runs on a 1.5GHz quad-core processor with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). It has 2GB of memory and a 1920-by-1200-pixel display. That's lower than the iPad with Retina display's of 2014 by 1536 pixels. The Sony slate also has an 8.1-megapixel camera.

At CES, Sony introduced an impressive smartphone model, the Xperia Z, which sports a 13-megapixel camera with good low light performance. The new Z tablet is designed to work with the Z model smartphone. For example, files can be swiftly transferred between the devices by placing them in close proximity to each other, courtesy of NFC support.

No pricing has been announced for the new tablet but given Sony's strategy to regain its status as a premium product maker, you can be fairly sure it won't be competing on price with the rash of budget tablets entering the market right now.

So far, Sony has confirmed availability of the Xperia Z only in Japan but, according to the BBC, more details about the hardware is expected next month.

It wouldn't be surprising if Sony used the tablet to wow attendees of the World Mobile Congress (WMC), which is being held in Barcelona from February 25 to 28. If it does showcase the Xperia Z at the WMC, Sony would be competing for buzz with a new 8-inch iPad mini competitor that Samsung has confirmed that it will debut at the Spanish mobile extravaganza.

In recent weeks, Sony executives have been playing up the company's return-to-premium angle. "We're ready to be a premium smartphone provider," Xperia's product manager, Stephen Sneeden, told CNET at CES.

Sneeden's sentiments were echoed by his colleague, Xperia marketing director Calum MacDougall. "If we can take that premium brand story and bring it into a smartphone, we think that's an offer that consumers will be interested in," he told FierceWireless.

Will the return-to-premium story be more burger than bun? If it is, then Sony's bottom line, and the cachet of its mobile products, will experience a rebound.

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John P. Mello Jr.

PC World (US online)
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