Review by Sunetra Chakravati,10/7/2015 12:27:14 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Stylish | compact | Runs Android | Ultra HD display | 4GB RAM | Good camera spec
Videos seem oversaturated |
- By Sunetra Chakravarti
When is something really good value? Is cheap as chips a ticket to the value gadget fame chair or is it more than that?
While we have seen gazillions of super value phones and phablets, the value range of the tablet market has been strangely bereft of devices... There is the superb Tesco hudl 2 which won the best Value Tablet award at the Mobile Choice Consumer Awards 2015 and not much more...until now.
Asus have just refreshed their Zenpad range and stuffed them full of some of the most amazing features we have seen on a sub-£200 tablet. Read on to find out more...
Asus clearly have someone in their design team who has realised packing fab features into a plastic body will just not cut it and has probably put a lot of though tothe look of their tablets- they are so different and cool, I absolutely love them!
The back of the tablet is a faux leather and textured plastic job and it makes sure there are no greasy fingerprints that are evidence of your going through a pack of crisps while streaming movies in bed.
The back of the tablet is very stylised and looks like a clutch that you would take to a party or a night out. A thin mirrored sliver of metal runs between the textured plastic and the faux leather giving it a very pleasant demarcation that would be hard to achieve otherwise.
The look is rounded off by another sliver of rounded metal edging along the side of the tablet lending it a look that makes it a far more expensive looking product in terms of design than it actually is.
At the top right corner is the camera lens, and the tablet is incredibly compact for an 8-inch screened one, with a 6.6mm thickness at its fattest bit. Furthermore, the it has the magic 74% body to screen ratio, which according to Asus can only be achieved by reducing the bezel size to the minimum, the ZenPad S 8.0 is also surprisingly light at 299g.
There are two stereo speaker grilles at the top and bottom of the Gorilla Glass 3, anti-fingerprint coated display and the audio jack is at the top of the tablet with charging via USB type C at the bottom right. Yes, it isnt your trusty microUSB but Asus are the first to take a plunge by using the Type C, as Apple are doing with their new devices and that basically means that charging will be a lot faster than what you would get via microUSB.
The 8-inch screen is a 2k one, with a 1536 x 2048 resolution. The LED Backlight Screen is incredibly sharp and crystal thanks to the IPS Panel and the full lamination. The same QXGA display as on an Apple iPad from the third iteration onwards makes an appearance here too.
Looking at photos, websites and documents is great but when it comes to videos, it all seems to have gone through an Instagram-style filter wrangler. Everything looks super smooth and over-saturated. I wasn't sure if I needed to go get my eyes checked but when I compared the same video on a variety of Android and iOS devices, the colours on the ZenPad S 8.0 seemed more colour-steeped and smoothened out in a manner that hurt my eyes.
I then discovered that this was due to ASUS Tru2Life+ Technology. On their website Asus say that Tru2Life: improves video with fast action scenes — such as sports — by increasing the screen refresh rate, resulting in reduced blur and smooth, detailed motion. Fortunately, this feature can be turned off in settings and you can set the brightness automatically too for a more salubrious tablet using experience.
The ZenPad S 8.0 also comes with support for the, rather stylish, Zen Pen which follows the design principals of the ZenPad and is an additional accessory you can buy alongside the cover which folds to let your tablet rest against.
The clutch-like tablet isnt just all looks, it packs serious processor heft as well, with a quad-core 64-bit Intel Atom Z3560 processor and 2GB RAM on the device. The review model did quite well when we switched between apps and didnt get any lag or stutters. There are apps on there which are quite superfluous and technically useless but there is no way of removing them, you are, however, able to disable and hide them. I am not a massive fan of Asus' UI and I really wish it could be pared back, but that hasnt happened, but I really do hope it does in the future.
Of the 32GB on the tablet, there was just 24GB available and so it is a wise decision from Asus to not have a 16GB model. I ran an AnTuTu benchmark test on it and the score came to 42106, just below the Note 4 and pretty amazing as far as phones/tablets are concerned.
The fact that storage can be expanded to 128GB makes it a great product for watching content on the go or listening to your vast music collection. The front-facing speakers are great and sound is clutter-free and without noise even with headphones on.
Battery life, again, was as promised and though I don't use tablets much apart from streaming YouTube all day long, I got about a whole day's worth through the course of the day. This little device has me absolutely gobsmacked with its on the ball performance and decent battery life.
Although NOBODY should ever whip out their tablets to take pictures I was very pleasantly surprised by how accomplished the cameras on this dinky little tablet are... 8-MP in name and game. There are about 15 different filters pre-loaded, including GIF animations, night mode, low light and beautification. I was sold, even though some of the filters arent as sophisticated as the one on, say, a Huawei phone, who practically invented the beautification tool, this was good for the job.
Asus have shown us that consumers shouldnt have to choose between form and function when on the lookout for a mid-range device. Not only does the tablet look great but the dual front facing speakers, 2k display, expandable memory and good battery life all make it a great device to own. Yes there is bloatware and you will have to switch off the blur-free video option for the beauty of the display to really shine through but at the end of the day, for under £200 you get a really neat device and that is pretty cool.
Price: From £199
Operating System: Android 5.0 Lollipop
Weight: 299 g
Size: 20.3 x 13.5 x 0.7 cm
Display: 8 inches
Resolution: 2048 x 1536 pixels
Processor: Octa-core Intel
RAM: 2 GB
Camera: 8MP and 5MP
Storage: 32GB and 64GB
Memory via microSD: 128 GB