The retail box is fairly spacious for such a slender device, but the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comes with only the very essentials - a charger (1.5A) and a microUSB cable.
Due to the waterproofing, the microUSB port is hidden under a flap so you might want to consider buying a magnetic charger dock or cable so you can charge the tablet with less hassle. Those are sold separately - they are not expensive by any means, but it would have been a nice perk to have them in the box.
We're essentially looking at an enlarged Xperia Z3, perhaps unsurprising given the name but definitely not a bad thing. The latest evolution of the Xperia design adds a touch of class with a rounded aluminum frame around the sides of the device but keeps weight in check by using mostly glass and plastic.
Unlike Xperia Z phones, here the back is matte plastic rather than glass, which we like better. It's nice and warm to the touch and, more importantly, isn't a scratch and fingerprint magnet. Sure, it's not as cool as an all-aluminum back like on the iPads but the whole Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact weighs just 270g.
Let that sink in, that's 270g for an 8" tablet when a 5.5" Oppo N1 weighs 213g. This lightness has a definite impact on handling - you don't worry you'll drop it (the grippy matte plastic helps here too) and your hand doesn't tire out quickly.
The tablet is super slim too, at 6.4mm it's nearly at the point where you feel the screen glass is glued straight onto the back. This doesn't mean the tablet is flimsy though, the aluminum frame is strong enough to keep the tablet from bending in normal use (though we wouldn't force it).
The metal trim around the tablet features the new design where the corners are made of separate elements, which promise to absorb impacts better.
Thin side bezels and thicker top/bottom bezels are a hybrid solution. At 123.6mm wide, the tablet is okay-ish to hold single-handedly (the rounded aluminum rim around the device isn't very grippy though). You can also hold the tablet horizontally without pressing anything on the screen or covering the front-facing stereo speakers.
The stereo speakers are narrow slits near the edge of the device. They are backed by Sony 3D Surround Sound and xLoud tech.
We're pleased to report that Sony has finally positioned buttons and ports in the right locations for a pleasant experience with tablet docks. The tablet is meant to be docked horizontally - the magnetic charging port is on the left side, but on other products we've seen either the microUSB port or the 3.5mm audio jack residing on the same side and providing less than an ideal solution.
Now the only thing on the left besides the charging port is the microSD card slot and the optional nanoSIM card slot (for the LTE version), both rarely used. The microUSB port is positioned on the lower side, covered by a flap.
The rest of the commonly used elements are now on the left/top - left to right, a 3.5mm audio jack, the trademark round Power key and the volume rocker. This means you get easy access to all buttons and ports, you can say use MHL TV-out while charging the tablet via a magnetic dock, or use the 3.5mm jack as analog audio out.
This orientation - the tablet lying on its left long side - is good for video calls too. The 2.2MP/1080p front-facing video camera is positioned to the side of the central Sony logo, leaving it above the speakers and your fingers when the tablet is docked in landscape.
There's a microphone on the tablet near the 3.5mm audio jack - it's kept clear from the dock for video calls.
You'll have to be more careful with the rear camera on the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. It's placed in the middle of the top short side and you may cover it with your fingers when holding it horizontally. There are no problems in portrait orientation but the tablet is a bit too big for one-handed shooting.
The camera itself features an 8MP Exmor RS sensor and no flash. Also on the back you'll find the NFC logo - that is there to guide you when using NFC as the short range technology requires fairly accurate placement when interacting with tags or other smart devices.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is available in Black and White with both the glass on the front and the plastic on the back changing color. The Black version even has the aluminum frame painted darker to match the rest of the exterior.
Inside the body of the tablet is a sealed 4,500mAh battery - not out of the ordinary for an 8" tablet and not bad for such a thin chassis though the 6.6mm Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has a 4,900mAh battery. Sony have proven they know what they're doing when it comes to battery life, we'll find out if they pulled off another miracle in a couple of chapters.