Asus ZenPad S 8.0 Review
With the success of the ZenFone line, Asus went on to work on a new tablet line based on the naming convention. They have been doing a lot of iterations of the tablet, the most popular of which is the MeMo Pad but the designs have been uninspiring so far and mostly catered to the entry-level market.
The new ZenPad S 8.0 family introduces a new breed of premium Android tablets that inherited a lot of the ZenFone design philosophy.
Design and Construction.
The ZenPad S 8.0 is one of the 3 sub-families of the ZenPad line (along with the ZenPad CV and ZenPad S 7.0) which incorporates top hardware configuration in a premium build. The biggest claim to fame of the ZenPad S 8.0 is having the world’s first 4GB of RAM, following the same marketing approach as the ZenFone 2.
At 6.6mm, the ZenPad S 8.0 is among the thinnest tablets around. It’s as thin as the Samsung Tab S 8.0 and perhaps that was Samsung’s inspiration (even the nomenclature is strikingly similar).
However, Asus drove it up a notch when it created a two-layer back panel that is crafted from brushed aluminum complemented with faux-leather finish. This provides it with a premium look but with practical use as the leatherette cover adds texture and better grip when held with one hand.
In the portrait orientation, the power button and volume controls are found on the right side. The 3.5mm audio port is up top while the micro-USB port for charging is at the bottom. For the low-end variant of the ZenPad S 8.0, they used the traditional microUSB port but the higher-end variants already have the USB Type-C port.
Along the leather-clad corner at the back (accessible on the left side as well) is the microSD card slot which supports up to 128GB of extra storage. A huge Asus logo is carved in the middle with the metal back getting a criss-crossed brushed pattern.
At the front is the Gorilla Glass 3 panel that covers the entire section, a 2MP front-camera on the upper section and a large Asus logo at the bottom corner. A thin silver trimming outlines the outer shape of the tablet although new found out that even a little accidental bump can actually cause the paint to chip off easily.
The tablet comes with an 8-inch diagonal display with a 4:3 aspect ratio that is similar to the iPad Mini. Screen resolution is pretty high at 2560×1440 pixels (320ppi) which pretty close to the pixel density of the iPad Mini Retina.
The IPS display is clean and crisp, images pop out and colors are very accurate. The high resolution can sometimes affect performance of the tablet but for the most part, navigation and UI animations are smooth and fluid.
The screen is highly reflective, even in indoors, and we think the display can use higher brightness level. Outdoor visibility is almost impossible.
The display has 74% screen-to-body ratio which is among the highest we’ve seen in a tablet so far.
Camera and Multimedia.
The ZenPad comes with a native AudioWizard apps that you can use to configure the sound profile of the tablet based on the type of media you are playing – movie, music, gaming or voice. You can set the bass level as well as the treble, manually set the EQ or activate dialog enhancement.
The ZenPad S 8.0 also features DTS-HD Premium Sound and SonicMaster technology which is pretty evident when playing music and movies.
The 5-megapixel rear camera has a fixed focus and takes mediocre to decent photos. Videos are decent and can be very shaky since there’s no image stabilization of any kind.
OS, Apps and UI.
The simple and clean ZenUI on the ZenPad is very similar to the one we are already familiar with in the ZenFone although there are a few adjustments made which are more useful in tablet mode.
We liked the auto-sort function of the ZenUI which figures out what type of app you just downloaded and installed then adds them automatically to pre-existing folders.
The ZenUI comes with nice features such as ZenMotion which gives you option for Touch Gestures that automatically launch apps and functions from the off screen by merely drawing a gesture (or letter) on the display. We first saw this very same features in the Color OS of Oppo. It also includes double-tap to wake or sleep. Other motion gestures include shake-twice to screenshot from any app.
Performance and Benchmarks.
Just like the ZenFone, the ZenPad’s single biggest claim to fame is having the world’s first 4GB of RAM in tablet. This allows it to open dozens of apps and windows at the same time without directly sacrificing performance.
However, the variant that we got only has 2GB of RAM and though it can handle multiple tasks at the same time, it is pretty easy to use up all that free memory and experience some lag.
The ZenPad scored a 4,324 on PCMark’s Work Performance which is actually pretty good but Antutu Benchmark only gave it a decent score of 31,962.
It would be interesting to see the scores of the other variants that carry the Z3580 chip and 4GB of RAM.
Connectivity and Battery Life.
The ZenPad S 8 comes with the basic connectivity options for a tablet. There’s WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and Miracast. It is missing NFC connectivity although we were not really expecting it to have one.
In our standard battery benchmark, the ZenPad managed to run for 7.5 hours in a loop of video playback at 50% brightness and 0% volume. However, the tablet only managed to last 4 hours and 49 minutes using PCMark Battery Test.
Even during heavy continuous usage, we did not experience the device to become to hot to the touch. A section of the metallic back would become warm but it’s tolerable and would not last very long. Perhaps the low-power processor and mostly metallic body helped especially with heat dissipation.
The ZenPad S 8.0 is, without a doubt, the best and more beautiful yet affordable Android tablet Asus has ever made even beating the ones they made for the Google Nexus program in terms of design and performance.
Asus certainly put a lot of effort and value into this offering – great design and good performance packaged at an affordable price point. Asus learned a lot in their success with the ZenFone line and we believe they will have the same success with the ZenPad.
It would be equally interesting to see the performance, benchmarks and the battery life of the higher-end variant of the ZenPad S 8.0 and see how much improvements will the 4GB of RAM and Atom Z5380 add into the over-all experience.
ASUS Zenpad S 8 (Z580C) specs:
8.0-inch QXGA IPS display @ 2048 x 1536 pixels, 320ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Intel Atom x3-C3200 1.33GHz quad-core processor
PowerVR G6430 GPU
2GB LPDDR3 RAM
32GB internal storage
up to 128GB via microSD card
100GB of Google Drive space for 2 years
5MP rear camera
2MP front-facing camera
3950mAh Li-Ion battery
Android 5.1 Lollipop
203.2 x 134.5 x 6.9mm (dimensions)
317 grams (weight)
Asus launched the ZenPad S 8.0 in the Philippines a couple of weeks ago with a suggested retail price of Php16,995 for the Z3580 and 4GB variant. Our review unit was bought around 3 weeks ago from Besy Buy for $199 for the Z3530 and 2GB variant using Galleon.ph direct-from-abroad service.
What we liked about it:
* Great display quality
* Very nice design and build quality
* Good performance
* Affordable price
What we did not like:
* Below average battery life
* Poor camera performance
Disclosure: This review unit was shipped from the US thru Galleon.ph. The site offers a custom purchase of almost anything available in major US online retail stores, then handles all the shipping and taxes for you. You can check out their listing here.