Track Tech: Verizon Wireless' Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

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We may be in the off-season, technically speaking, but my Verizon Wireless Track Tech features do not take a break. This past month I’ve been working with the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet. This device is available exclusively through Verizon Wireless and it runs on the Android OS. While I may not have visited any actual racetracks during this review period, I did attend more than a couple sporting events in October including a Pacers game which wrapped up an unforgettable Verizon IndyCar Series presser & announcement with none other than the Mayor of Hinchtown, James Hinchcliffe himself. Racing is ALWAYS a part of my world, whether the burning rubber and ethanol fumes are present or not… all of this was captured and shared thanks to the efficient design and seamless functions of the Xperia.

Kicking off with a Kickoff

DSC_0057The month started out with a visit to my Alma Mater, Bowling Green State University for their Homecoming Weekend. We attended the Falcon Hockey & Football games. Photos of the games were not as detailed as I had hoped. The 8.1 MP camera takes really nice shots when in full view mode in really good lighting – but dim or softly lit subjects as well as trying to take a zoomed in shot produce very grainy pictures and leave much to be desired. One thing that was really nice though, was that we were able to get real time updates on the football game thanks to “OK Google” capability, once we left the game due to the freezing cold weather. The game came down to the last few minutes but the Falcons ended up victorious and then we headed back home in our nice warm SUV complete with navigation features on the tablet!

IndyCar Off-Season Fun

Three days later and in the middle of a work week, I found myself in Indianapolis. I had been invited to take part in a very memorable press event. Verizon IndyCar Series driver, James Hinchcliffe was making his 2015 team announcement, in true Hinch-style. All the details are available in my recap of the evening here on MTAF: Wheels. One of the cool things that happened, strangely enough, was the literal rain-on-our-HandleBarIndy-parade, because it gave me the opportunity to test one of the features of the Xperia! DSC_0120We were all waiting outside Banker’s Life Fieldhouse prior to the Pacers pre-season game when Hinchcliffe commented on me standing there with my tablet and working in the middle of the rain. He asked if I was at all worried about my tablet getting wet, which gave me the chance to explain how it was actually waterproof and I was purposely standing in the rain to test it. He & his girlfriend, Kirsten, both sounded surprised and commented on what a cool feature that was. I was just as surprised and impressed by how the water did not affect the touch screen sensitivity or SWYPE typing at all. It not only resisted damage with the water cascading all over it (as long as all the outlets are properly sealed with the attached coverings), but it carried on with regular processes uninterrupted. I was even able to take photos in the rain without the lens being distorted or blurred by water droplets! Pretty awesome!

Back To School

I attended the Ohio University Homecoming later that week. I am not an Alum, but my cousin is finishing up his senior year there and my aunt is forever a Bobcat! We attended the parade in the morning and I just had to capture all the fun we were having on the beautiful Autumn morning – thanks to the huge 10.1 inch full HD display, I was able to take a “group selfie” of the whole family!DSC_0177 Unfortunately, even though I had the tablet plugged in all night and the whole drive down while using the Google Maps navigation app, the usually very long battery life was drained and I ended up having a dead tablet by the time the football game came around. I was pretty bummed about that because I wanted to post some videos of the Marching 110 on Vine. I was honestly surprised by this, considering that there were times I would leave the tablet not-plugged-in purposely for DAYS, just to see how long I could use it before it died. In one instance, it took from Friday morning until Monday evening before the warning came on to connect the tablet to a power source. I was using it those four days as normal – not holding back on data usage or doing anything outside the ordinary. I still hold that the instance at Ohio University was a fluke – it just seemed very strange, for a tablet with such impressive battery life, to die before noon in one day. There had to have been some other reason(s) the battery died, but I never figured it out.

The Comforts of Home

I rarely get to spend an entire day at home – and the few times I do, it’s usually spent cleaning! This time around, I decided to have some fun with it! First, I set my tablet upright in each room as I cleaned – I did this by using the Incipio Hard Shell Folio Case, made specifically for the Xperia and available at Verizon Wireless stores and online. I then listened to music on YouTube & Vevo while cleaning my house! That simple! The two surround-sound speakers on the Sony Xperia made it sound like I had an actual stereo blasting – not a quarter-inch thick tablet! I have to say I even stopped to watch some of the videos because of the quality of the images. The display on the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet is trademarked as “Full HD Triluminos” – it is the latest in Sony Bravia TV technology and the incredibly vast array of colors captivates the viewer when watching videos, playing games (it can be integrated with your PlayStation 4) or checking out TV shows  & movies through the Redbox Instant & Play apps.

Local Fun & National Headlines

As you all know by now, those days at home as mentioned above are not my preferred way to spend a weekend – I would much rather be out and about, even in my own neck of the woods. Thankfully, with durable features like scratch resistant glass on the Sony Xperia, plus the fact that it weighs in just under a pound, make it incredibly easy to handle, simple to travel with and a breeze to stow away at a moment’s notice without the worry that you’re going to drop or damage it. I propped it up at the table while grabbing lunch to catch up on things, slid it into my purse and headed into a film where I was able to easily silence it and not worry about distracting anyone in the theater, and then enjoyed a hike afterwards, taking it in and out of my bag multiple times but never feeling like it was a nuisance because of how easy it was to handle and how quick I could swipe it on and get to the apps that I used most. The customized home and “neighbor” pages made this possible. Of course, the Xperia being an Android tablet made the set up of those custom pages even easier, automatically downloading my preferred apps and syncing accounts as soon as I logged into Google upon receiving the device.

DSC_0012Another feature I appreciated was that the device battery was not drained due to trying to find coverage in crowded events. I attended a Cleveland Cavaliers Exhibition game at Quicken Loans Arena and I was connected to the Verizon 4G XLTE network, so I didn’t have to fight for Wi-Fi coverage or deal with lag times when posting and replying on social media about the game. I have to reiterate my comments about the camera quality however – I was disappointed that I couldn’t get a clear action shot during the game or even a quality zoomed in image when the players were close to us and shooting foul shots. The shot shown here was the best I could manage, utilizing the tablet’s post-editing features.

Exclusive Feature Spotlight: When texting or typing, you may need to go back to a particular word and correct the spelling and capitalization. Regardless of your reason why, sometimes getting the cursor exactly where you want it on a touchscreen can be frustrating… but not with the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet! When you touch where you want your cursor to show up, a small magnifying glass appears, to help you place it between the right letters or words. You can keep your finger on the screen and drag the cursor to the particular place it’s needed. Accuracy is key when composing a long email to a client or even trying to shoot off an urgent text to a family member – the Xperia helps you reach that precision in a timelier and less exasperating manner.

The two big things that occurred (and continue to occur) repetitively throughout the month of October were postseason Major League Baseball games and Cedar Point Halloweekends. Everyone knows I love sports and adrenaline – and who says they IMG_20141024_231129have to end before Labor Day? Well… okay, I won’t even go there right now. Wink wink. But anyways, sometimes the two things are separate as in this instance and yet, I still don’t want to miss either one. Multi-tasking my interests was made possible this month by the Sony Xperia Z2. Being able to walk through the Amusement Park ranked Best in the World for 16 years (most recently in 2013), snap shots of the hauntingly perfect Halloweekends décor & share them on social media while also being able to keep tabs on the score of Game 3 of the World Series (Go Royals!), made my night that much more enjoyable. I hate having to pick and choose between doing the things that I love – but with the Xperia, I didn’t have to choose – I was able to have the best of both worlds and not feel like I was missing out on anything!

Device & Network: Access & Responsibility

I guess when it comes down to it, that’s what we are all looking for in mobile technology. It’s a portal to connect us to the people and things that we might not be able to have direct contact with at any given moment. Personally, I get tired of listening to the negative commentary from particular individuals or syndicates on how technology disconnects us, creating walls between individuals and groups, producing misunderstandings due to lack of tone or emotion. I don’t see this as true. Not universally, at least. Yes, it is a possibility and it does happen; as with anything, it’s all in how you choose to utilize what you have. You can make the best of the technology available, allow it to enhance your life and bring you closer to those that are far away – or you can use it as a shield or mask with intent to deceive, hurt or misinform others for your own benefit.

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I honestly didn’t intend for this conclusion to get so serious, but I sincerely appreciate having this platform and getting to discuss technology with all of you. And with that voice… “Can you hear me now?”… I find it necessary to touch on the responsible use of this technology & this network, the “internet etiquette” we should all practice, if you will. We have access to absolutely incredible technology and devices from a company like Verizon Wireless – which aims to better our quality of life and connect us to everyone and everything possible. Let that remind us of how this access to technology makes our World very small nowadays, and incredibly interconnected – and let’s use that knowledge to promote good & practice kindness. Verizon’s slogan is “That’s Powerful”… so let’s remember that, respect it, and consciously use it for the right reasons.

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