Sony has announced the Xperia Z4 Tablet at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, along with a couple of specifically-designed accessories that will help protect the new device, as well as turn it into a 10.1-inch laptop.
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is 6.1mm slim, weighs just 393g and it comes in black and white colour options. There is a 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution on board, along with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM, 6000mAh battery and Android 5.0 Lollipop with the Sony overlay.
It's a lovely looking device and one you'd likely want to protect so in terms of accessories, Sony has introduced the SCR32 style cover stand that looks after the Xperia Z4 Tablet without adding too much bulk and the BKB50 Bluetooth Keyboard that is perfect for those who want to work on the move without lugging around a heavy laptop. We went hands-on with both in the run up to MWC to see how they work with the tablet and whether they are a useful addition.
Perfect-fit BKB50 Bluetooth Keyboard
The BKB50 Bluetooth Keyboard is a specially-designed accessory that offers a perfect fit with the Xperia Z4 Tablet, essentially turning it into a 10.1-inch laptop. Once the keyboard has been paired the first time, which can be done through NFC, it will connect automatically to the tablet each time it is used there after, which makes everything nice and simple.
As you would expect, there is a full QWERTY keyboard on board, but the BKB50 also features a track pad below the keyboard, which makes the Xperia Z4 Tablet easier to navigate and more like a laptop when the keyboard is attached. We had a quick play and while the track pad wasn't as responsive as our MacBook Air's, typing was great and we experienced no lag there. It's worth bearing in mind that we were using a prototype so things may be a little smoother come launch day.
Connecting the keyboard to the Xperia Z4 Tablet is a piece of cake, with a dedicated slot for the tablet to simply slip into and once in, it feels nice and secure. It's just as easy to take the tablet out of the keyboard too when you are finished, but at no point did we worry that it would fall out if we tipped it upside down. Docking detection is on board too and the keyboard has a zero to 130-degree tilt for adjustable viewing angles.
The hinge on the BKB50 means you can close the tablet onto the keys so there is no need to disconnect them if you'd rather not, and this also means the keyboard cover will protect the tablet display when you are carting it around. The keyboard has small rubber rectangles that ensure the screen and the keys don't meet so any scratches are avoided.
In terms of design, the BKB50 is lovely and slim and every when the tablet is closed on top, it is nowhere near as thick as a standard laptop would be. Sony has clearly made this accessory as thin and light as possible and it looks great when attached to the tablet. On the right hand side is a small light to indicate when the keyboard is switched on, along with a pairing button and power switch.
The one complaint we would have regarding the BKB50's design is perhaps a little too light, resulting in the tablet falling backwards when on your knee for example, if you don't have it positioned at the right angle. The other side to this argument however, is that you don't want the keyboard to be too heavy as then it would defeat the point in having a sub-400 gram tablet so you have to decide if you happy to fiddle with the angle for a few seconds to avoid the tablet crashing into the table or your knee sockets.
When the BKB50 keyboard is connected, the Xperia Z4 Tablet displays a small arrow in the bottom left-hand corner that transforms into a Sony Android launcher, similar to the Windows' Start launcher. It's a nifty feature and one that works well, allowing you to easily access applications you used most recently. At the bottom of the display, you'll also find your most frequently used apps, such as Gmail, making navigation that little easier and quicker. The Xperia Z4 Tablet also offers printer and projector outputs.
The BKB50 Bluetooth Keyboard comes in black only so if you opt for the white Xperia Z4 Tablet, you'll be going for a more monochrome look but with the black tablet, it looks like a very slim, sleek laptop. The design of the BKB50 is simple but sophisticated and it works well. Sony claims it is a way to build the business side of tablets and it delivers a PC-like experience that some will undoubtably love.
BSP60 smart speaker
In the theme of turning the Xperia Z4 Tablet into a device suitable for business as well as everyday use, Sony has also introduced the BSP60 smart speaker, which is not to be mistaken for Mickey Mouse or Danger Mouse.
The speaker has been designed for making conference calls, receiving phone notifications and retrieving information all via voice commands to enable easy multi-tasking. We didn't get to see the speaker in action fully as the model we saw was a prototype but the design is lovely and cute. We feel cute is the best word to describe it.
The round, glossy black ball features two raised elements on either side at the top, housing the speakers underneath. There is a blue LED light under each element to indicate the power is on and the speakers themselves are white, which look great with the blue illumination.
On the front of the speaker in the middle, there is an interface that resembles Sony smartphones and tablets, along with its wearables and this is where you'll see the information it provides. The interface will also be one the Sony fans will love as it's easy to tell you are looking at a Sony product before even clocking the small logo on the rear. You'll also find NFC on board for easy pairing.
Underneath the BSP60 are two small rubber wheels, enabling this speaker to move around which is handy. There is also the pairing and power switch, while a Micro-USB port for charging is on the rear under the Sony logo.
We weren't given too much more information on the BSP60 smart speaker but we love how it looks in terms of design and we are looking forward to having one to play with on our desks to see how it copes with obeying our commands.
Super-slim SCR32 cover
The SCR32 cover stand is Sony's answer to Apple's Smart Cover for the iPad and it's a good alternative. It's slim, well-designed and it protects the Xperia Z4 Tablet without adding too much bulk.
Of course, no matter what case you put on any tablet, you are adding to its weight and its thickness but the SCR32 cover does so in a minimal way. The Xperia Z4 Tablet slots into the SCR32 and is secured via four plastic, curved clips that hold it in place, while the leather cover protects the screen.
There is a small crease in the front and rear of the SCR32, which is how you turn the cover into a stand, offering two variable viewing angles, and the rear has a cut out hole for the camera so you don't need to take the cover off once it is on to access any controls or ports.
The SCR32 cover remains shut when it is closed thanks to a magnetised flap and the cover comes in black and white versions, although we only saw the white however, which we liked. It would be nice to see a few more colours added in the future though, just for those that want to make more of a statement.
For those that want everyone to know what tablet they have hidden within the cover, Sony has thought about this too, introducing a small and discreet Sony logo to the front of the cover, which looks good.
No pricing or availability details were provided for either the BKB50 Bluetooth Keyboard or the SCR32 Style Cover Stand but we will keep you updated when we find out more information.