Back in August, Asus hosted the ZenFestival in Delhi where it unveiled a bunch of smartphones like the Zenfone 2 Laser, Zenfone 2 Deluxe, and the Zenfone Selfie. It also quietly took the wraps off two tablets, one of which was the ZenPad 8.0 (Z380KL). Priced at Rs 14,999, the tablet comes with voice calling capabilities and focuses on offering a good multimedia experience without having to spend a fortune. We have spent quite a bit of time with it, and here is our Asus ZenPad 8.0 review.
To start off, the ZenPad feels great in hand and despite the plastic materials, doesn t feel cheap by any means. With dimensions of 209x123x8.5mm, this 8-inch tablet is quite narrow, albeit a tad thick. It isn t light either, and at 350 grams, you can feel the weight of the tablet in your hands.
The front is dominated by the display, with Asus claiming that almost 75 percent of the front is the display. Despite the company s claims, the bezels are too thick for our liking. The edges boast a metallic strip, which adds to the premium feel of the tablet. Unlike many tablets, the micro-USB port is situated at the top, which is a good thing because the tablet is usable even when it is connected to the power socket. At the back are the camera and a removable panel. Underneath the panel is the microSD card slot, SIM card slot, as well as the connector for the tablet s smart cases.
Speaking of which, the review unit we got was bundled with the Audio Cover, which Asus describes as an entertainment accessory that brings cinematic, 5.1-channel surround sound . This cover essentially adds six speakers (including a subwoofer) to the tablet. This cover costs an additional Rs 3,000, but more on its performance later.
The ZenPad flaunts an 8-inch WXGA (1280×800 pixels) LED IPS display, with Asus Tru2Life technology. The display is bright and vivid, colors look punchy and black text on a white background look crisp. Viewing angles are good as well, and the screen is quite legible outdoors in bright lighting conditions.
Asus has also added an anti-fingerprint coating to the screen, and it does a good enough job to keep smudges away. It has also added a few options to let you play around with the colors, and one can adjust the color intensity and temperature. Default options include balance and vivid alongside options to customize the hue, saturation and bluelight filter.
Under the hood is Qualcomm s Snapdragon 615 octa-core chipset clocked at 1.8GHz and paired with Adreno 405 GPU and 2GB of RAM. On paper, the configuration is good enough to handle most tasks, and handle it does. Multi-tasking is a breeze and there is barely any noticeable lag or stutter. Graphic intensive games like Angry Birds 2 and Marvel s Contest of Champions too were handled relatively well.
On the storage front, the tablet comes with 16GB memory, of which around 11GB is available for users. One can however use a microSD card to expand the memory up to 128GB. If that is somehow not enough, Asus is additionally offering 5GB Webstorage Space, as well as 100GB Google Drive storage for two years.
Multimedia is one of its talking points, and it does its primary job quite well. We played 1080p videos, which are handled with ease and look quite good on the bright display. The front-facing speaker is quite loud enough on its own, but the Audio Cover just enhances the entire multimedia experience. The speakers in the cover are seriously loud, and be it music or videos, every small detail is audible.
Asus has also bundled in an AudioWizard, which lets you tweak around with the sound settings of the tablet. You can choose to enable or disable Surround Sound, and can also opt for particular settings for movies, music or gaming.
Cameras on tablets aren t usually a highlighted feature, and it is no different on the ZenPad 8.0 either. The 8-megapixel camera at the back is just about decent and is only handy when you don t have a better option. Photos clicked outdoors under ample sunlight are average and only look good on the tablet. The lack of details is more prominent when you see the photos on your computer. Unsurprisingly, photos clicked indoors lack detail and you will have to deal with noise. The front camera is average at best, and seems designed only for video chatting in mind.
Connectivity options include a SIM card slot with 4G support, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth 4.0. It comes with voice calling capabilities, and it does its job well. The voice from the other end was quite audible, and we didn t face any major call drops.
On the software front, the tablet runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop wrapped under ZenUI. Asus UI is very light on customizations, and largely free of bloatware. There are a few apps like Amazon Kindle, CleanMaster and TripAdvisor among others pre-loaded, but they can be easily uninstalled.
The tablet is backed up with a 4,000mAh battery, which is good enough to last a day when using it as a phone. We had two email accounts pushing notifications, social accounts like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as played a bit of games. But when using the tablet purely for watching movies or listening to music, the battery will last closer to a day and half before you run out of juice.
An 8-inch smartphone isn t everyone s cup of tea, but there are those who prefer the versatility of a tablet s size and smartphone s voice calling capabilities. For them, the ZenPad 8.0 is a fairly decent option, and the only other tablet with such capabilities that comes to mind is the Lenovo Yoga 2. But the ZenPad s multimedia capabilities are its highlight, and we strongly recommend you buy the Audio Cover when buying this tablet. It may cost Rs 3,000 extra, but it is worth every penny.