Sony's incredibly thin Xperia Tablet Z tablet

Can Sony's waterproof tablet make a splash?
Can Sony's waterproof tablet make a splash?

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is absurd -- in the best way possible. All tablets should be this freakishly thin and impossibly light.

If you were to pick up Sony's (SNE) new 10.1-inch tablet and not look at it, you'd think you were holding a 7-inch device in your hand. It's that light.

The Xperia Tablet Z is just 0.27 inches thick and 1.09 pounds. That's 27% thinner and 24% lighter than Apple's (AAPL) fourth-generation iPad.

Announced last month and on display for the first time at Mobile World Congress, which began Monday, the Android-powered Tablet Z packs a decent amount of punch for its size. It sports a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM, and a full HD resolution of 1920x1080.

But on internal components alone, the Tablet Z wouldn't be enough to make anyone take notice. It's by no means the fastest tablet on the market -- its Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset from Qualcomm (QCOM) is last year's model. Its display isn't the most pixel-dense, but it's suitable enough for 2013.

The appeal of this device only becomes apparent when you hold it and see it. After a few brief moments messing around with the Xperia Tablet Z, I found myself excited about a new tablet for the first time in awhile.

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It's not just that it's thin and light, but the Tablet Z is constructed in such a way that the lack of mass doesn't make the device feel cheap, like a toy. It still feels like a premium tablet.

Oh, and it's waterproof.

Yet there are a couple of drawbacks to consider when thinking about purchasing a Tablet Z. Sony's custom user interface is inferior to Google's (GOOG) stock Android UI, and it annoyingly pushes many of Sony's custom apps and services. The Tablet Z does sport Android 4.1, but Sony only committed to delivering the latest 4.2 update sometime "post-launch." Could be weeks. Could be months.

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The tablet also has a premium price tag. At $499 for the 16 GB model and $599 for the 32 GB model, it is as expensive as the iPad and Nexus 10. Apple and Google will likely release updated tablets later this year with all the latest bells and whistles, but it will likely be another year -- at least -- before we see a Tablet Z successor.

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is a device worth watching when it goes on sale later this year. It might just be the most impressive new device at the this year's Mobile World Congress.

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