Sunday 17 December 2017

Digital: Here's the tablet you can take in the shower

Review: Sony Xperia Z tablet

Sony Xperia Z tablet
Sony Xperia Z tablet
Metro: Last Light for Xbox 360 and PS3
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Take one iPad. Gaze for a moment at its lovely screen and then pour a glass of wine over it. Watch the light quickly die in its eyes. It's not a pretty sight and a waste of good sauvignon blanc to boot.

Yet it makes the salient point that consumer electronics and liquids don't mix. Not usually anyway.

But Sony has recently shown it can craft an attractive waterproof phone and now it has repeated the trick with the Xperia Z tablet.

The product of the same design minds, this 10-inch Android tablet also sets new standards for thinness, its angular frame somehow feeling reassuringly solid despite its waif-like girth.

Take it into the bathroom, to the kitchen or to the beach, the Xperia Z doesn't care. It's waterproof up to three feet for 30 minutes. The screen still works underwater, as does the audio. A drop of vino is no bother to it.

The sharp lines of the tablet's body may not be to everyone's taste but it's hard not to like Sony's other hardware signatures, such as the built-in infra-red remote control.

Who needs to fumble around the couch for the zapper when you've got one right in your lap on the tablet itself?

The trade-off for its sylph-like stature inevitably shows up in the shortish battery life, which can't come close to the iPad's 10-plus hours. Nor is the screen quite so crisp.

Software-wise, Sony offers the usual mixed bag.

Clever ideas such as the readily accessible calculator and note apps are outweighed by the unavailability in Ireland of several iTunes-like services such as Movies and PlayStation Games. This is 2013, Sony, sort it out.

Still, the Xperia Z marks a great leap forward for Sony's tablet range – it's the only one on the market that's waterproof and dustproof. At €540, though, it's a little pricey set against the higher-spec (but water-hating) Nexus 10, due in Ireland shortly.


Metro: Last Light



First, the nuclear bombs went off, then the aliens arrived.

Can life get any worse in Moscow, the setting for this sequel to this post-apocalypse scare-athon Metro 2033?

The answer, is yes, thanks to rise of the Fourth Reich.

The original wore a grim survival vibe like a badge, somewhere equidistant between Half-Life, Fallout and Resident Evil. Evidently, the message came down the line to make it a bit more 'modern'. So Last Light cribs more of its drama from the likes of Splinter Cell and even triple-A shooters such as Call of Duty.

Gratifyingly, though, it's still shot through with Soviet nihilism and haunting imagery of a destroyed city, peppered with atmospheric glimpses of communist culture versus the new Nazis.

The gunplay still feels a tad leaden and the stealth sequences stretch credulity beyond the boundaries of Splinter Cell.

Yet its bleak narrative and constant changes of pace provide the spur to come back for more.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Nintendo 3DS


From the relentlessly desolate to the irrepressibly cheery. New Leaf couldn't offer more contrast to Last Light if it put on a party hat and sang a merry tune.

This latest slice of life from the Animal Crossing series, as usual, features no violence or moral turpitude. The village life simulator eases you gently in your job as mayor of a growing community, where the most demanding tasks are making friends, trading for profit and choosing your interior décor.

If it sounds humdrum, you've never played Animal Crossing. Legendarily addictive for its sheer range of activities, New Leaf breaks little fresh ground but you can still lose weeks to its agreeable home improvement and debt repayment cycle.

Arcania: The Complete Tale



Purely on face value, two RPGs in one invokes gluttony or overkill.

This package of the original medieval role-player and its sequel has miles of content but hangs its hackneyed tale on a technically ropey foundation.

Gameplay consists chiefly of basic fetch quests and beast-slaying. Nothing startling, not awful. But Dragon's Dogma has done it better.



Irish Independent

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