This is the second Asus tablet that I have tried in recent weeks. The first was the budget ZenPad C 7.0 ($199), a good-looking slate let down by its middling battery life.
However, this is not the case with the new ZenPad 8.0. At $299, it costs much more than the C 7.0, but its battery life is excellent. It lasted close to 10 hours in our video-loop test - almost twice as long as the C 7.0.
A bigger battery (4,000mAh compared with the C 7.0's 3,450mAh) is one reason for the improvement.
The other possible reason is its processor. The chip on the ZenPad 8.0 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, instead of the Intel Atom x3.
The ZenPad 8.0 feels more responsive and less stuttery than the 7-inch version, likely because it has twice the amount of memory (2GB).
Physically, the two tablets share a similar design. They have chrome trim around their edges, and a removable plastic back with a faux leather finish. Remove the back cover to insert a microSD card (it supports up to 128GB), or a micro-SIM card (it is 4G-capable).
The back cover can be swopped with cover accessories that come in different colours or offer extra functionality. For instance, the Zen Clutch Case acts as a stand, while the Power Case includes an integrated battery for longer uptime.
The screen has good viewing angles because it uses an IPS panel. The colours look lively, but not overly saturated. The screen resolution of 1,200 x 800 pixels is passable for an 8-inch device. But the screen does not look as sharp as those on most mid-to-high-end smartphones.
It comes with an 8-megapixel and 2-megapixel rear and front camera, respectively. They improve on the ones in the C 7.0, but are still not good enough to replace the cameras on your smartphone. I felt a slight lag when taking shots with the rear camera. The images I took also look grainy.
It runs the latest Android 5.0 operating system, but with Asus' ZenUI interface sitting on top.
However, the features offered are similar to the custom Android interfaces from other vendors. For example, the ability to sort apps by usage frequency is also found in Sony's Android devices, while an Asus app to free up system memory has an equivalent on Xiaomi devices.
Asus has preloaded the ZenPad 8.0 with a number of proprietary apps. Some, such as a live wallpaper that shows a rising water level, are not useful, while others, such as the Clock app, feel like unnecessary remakes of the default Android apps. To exacerbate matters, these apps cannot be uninstalled.
Verdict: A polished and affordable tablet with good hardware. But Asus should cut down on the preloaded apps.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
Display: 8 inches, 1,200 x 800 pixels
Camera: 8 megapixels (rear), 2 megapixels (front)
Storage: 8GB, microSD expandability up to 128GB
Value for money: 4/5
Battery life: 5/5
This article was first published on September 9, 2015.
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