#interview: Sony Mobile designers on creating the world’s “slimmest, lightest tablet”

This coming Monday, Xperia Tablet Z will start shipping to markets across the globe, so over the next few weeks we’ll be taking a look at the backstory of this amazing product, along with some tips & tricks, feature demos and walk-throughs…

Xperia Tablet Z shares the same cool Sony software, hardware and design elements as our Xperia Z smartphone including water resistance, the latest Sony screen tech, media applications (WALKMAN, Album and Movies), NFC “One-touch” connectivity and much more.

As you might imagine, creating a premium Tablet experience, where durability and design don’t compromise UX is challenging. So we thought we’d discuss overcoming that (and more) with Xperia Tablet Z’s designers – enjoy!

Can you talk a bit about the planning process behind creating the Xperia Tablet Z?

xperia_tablet_z_1Sugiyama, Senior Designer: The Xperia Tablet Z planning took shape as we sought a better match, in user experiences and connectivity, between smartphones and tablets. OmniBalance design guided our work, just as it had for the Xperia Z smartphone, as we ensured greater consistency. Another initial consideration as the project began was that this would be the world’s slimmest, lightest tablet. To create a tablet slimmer and lighter than all others we chose an airy yet sturdy fiberglass-reinforced back cover.

What were the biggest challenges in creating the sleek design?

Umeda, Designer: The hard part was making this ideally light and tough surface look stylish. The material is fabricated by layering several fiberglass-reinforced sheets, impregnating them with a polymer, and then moulding them into the right shape. After several attempts to strike the right balance, we were finally able to say we had created the world’s slimmest and lightest tablet.xperia_tablet_z_2

How does the Xperia Tablet Z compare with previous tablet models?

Sugiyama: Water-resistant construction is a highlight of the Xperia Tablet Z, thanks to how all six surfaces are assembled in the final stage of manufacturing the device. This basic structure also determines the tablet size, to a great extent. For better usability, we positioned the on/off and volume buttons opposite to where they are on the phone. This makes the tablet easier to use with the many apps that support both portrait and landscape orientation.

Umeda: This is our first white tablet. On the back, both colors are presented with a sense of depth, with a slightly bluish tinge on the black tablet and a slightly yellowish pearl finish on the white one. As for the finish, after trying a few approaches, we decided that in a primarily hand-held device such as a tablet, a neat matte finish extending over the side toward the back feels most comfortable.

On a more general note looking forward, how do you see the evolution of mobile design changing toward the future?

xperia_tablet_z_3Hibi, Senior Designer: I think that one day we should take user freedom to even greater heights, when we move past traditional concepts of usability. Ideally, people will forget they’re using any device at all, as they interact directly with content or information. At that point, perhaps people and communication will also be more natural than ever. To me, that’s where advances in smartphones and tablets are taking us.

To read more, please visit the Sony’s Design site.

To get a better view of the Xperia Tablet inside and out, watch above as one of our designers takes you through a “teardown” of Xperia Tablet Z… and then reassembles it in 60 secs below :)

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