Asus ZenPad 8.0 (Z380KL)
Asus is one of the old companies (Founded on April 2, 1989; 26 years ago) manufacturing Computer Hardwares like Motherboard, LCD TVs, PhysX accelerator card, Eee PC, BD-ROM/DVD writer PC drive,Blu-ray based notebooks, world’s thinnest notebook (ASUS U36), Graphics cards, Portable monitors, Sound cards, Smartphones and Tablets to name a few.
Seems like with the success of the ZenFone range company extending its ‘Zen’ branding to tablets as well in hope of replicating the success of ZenFone range.
Being a Blogger I’ve been offered to review the ZenPad 8.0 for review, which is the top-end model powered by famous Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 SoC, the ZenPad 8.0 tries to replicate the ZenFone experience with a huge screen.
Look and feel
The Zen branding Asus is using for its smartphone lineup but the Asus ZenPad 8.0 has no similarities with their smartphones. There are no typical ZenPhone’s concentric-circles pattern and the screen has a 76.5% screen-to-body, engineered by reducing the bezel width to the bare minimum, which is too good to have. Since it is a 4G Tablet, you can make call with also, the tablet’s speaker doubles up as the earpiece for calls. I would like to add that the SKYPE calls are very impressive on this huge tablet.
The ZenPad 8.0 looks very premium with its metallic strip around the screen, though there is plastic underneath. Power and volume buttons are placed at comfortable height for a right handed person, midway on the right edge, and the USB and audio jack ports(3.5mm) are at the top and camera sits in the left corner on the back side. It has leather looking and removable plastic panel hiding the SIM and Memory Card slots. The device is very sleek (209 x 123 x 8.5 mm (LxWxH)) weighs 350g only.
The ZenPad 8.0 has 8″ LED Backlight WXGA (1280×800) Screen IPS Panel with an aspect ratio of 16:10 which is nonstandard(16:9) for most videos produced these days. The resolution WXGA (1280×800) 189 pixels per inch for 8-inch screen if very ancient in today’s time when we have exceeded 5K Display this tablet is not even Standard Retina Display.
(Info: Retina Display is a marketing term developed by Apple to refer to devices and monitors that have a resolution and pixel density so high – roughly 300 or more pixels per inch – that a person is unable to discern the individual pixels at a normal viewing distance.)
It is low-resolution for an 8 inch Tablet and the lack of detail shows sometimes. The price segment where it is placed is a Full HD screen is a must these days. Other than resolution the screen, color, contrast, clarity and brightness are good and Videos play good on this resolution also.
Opening the rear panel you will find micro-SIM and microSD slots, and a connector for the Audio Cover accessory. It holds a non removable battery.
I’ve been given an Audio Cover accessory also to review. It works as a protective cover and excellent add-on DTS-tuned speaker. Since it is directly connected to the connector pins at the rear panel it requires no pairing. The cover also looks very premium and matches the Premium looks of the Tablet, it contains battery and speaker (DTS-tuned) which makes it heavy. Magnetic sensor unlocks the tablet when you flip it open. This makes the Pair (Tablet+Audio Cover Accessory) and excellent multimedia Tablet with Killer Looks. You should invest on the cover if you are planning to buy a portable speaker or a premium cover. It is a package of Excellent looking cover and beautifully configured 5.1 speaker which is DTS-tuned and produces very clear surround sound.
Specifications and Software
The ZenPad 8.0 (Z380KL) runs on a 1.4GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 SoC (Qualcomm® MSM8929 Octa-Core) and it comes with 2GB LPDDR3RAM, 16GB eMCP onboard storage5GB Life Time ASUS Webstorage Space,with an additional 11 GB for 1 year(s) and 100GB of Google Drive space for 2 years, and LTE (LTE:2300, FDD-LTE:1800(3)) connectivity. Other specifications are,Bluetooth V4.0+A2DP, WLAN802.11 b/g/n, expandable storage up to 128GB, 4000mAh, 15.2Wh non-removable Li-polymer Battery, 8MP Rear Camera with Auto-Focus Large f2.0 aperture (rear camera)and2 MP Front Camera and neither with LED flash.
The Asus ZenPad 8.0 runs on ZenUI based on Android 5.0, similar to Asus’ smartphones. With user permissionthe UI classified and sorted into groups. ZenUI is fairly customizable, you can tweak it as per your preferences. This also means that you will be having good amount of bloatware occupying precious internal storage.
The Asus ZenPad 8.0 good performer powered by Snapdragon 615 and Adreno 405 @500MHzGraphic processor. Apps and games ran comfortably in day to day use, with some exceptions for high end games which sometimes looked to have missed some frames or stuck in processing the image. Though I felt some heating on the back while playing gaming but it’s very logical as the gaming puts both the main CPU (Snapdragon 615) and Graphic Processor (Adreno 405 @500MHz) on job they are supposed to do i.e. process huge amount of data hence heating in result of using the processor at highest possible clock speed and it was not much discomfort though.General HD videos ran well and the display was good. The Audio Cover Accessory is a Real Game Changer when using media with this Tablet. It’s a bliss using Audio cover for playing Music (Use FLAC music format for best results), you can choose Audio settings as per the application in use. There are a few different setting for 5.1 surround for music/movie and a few other.
This is a 4G tablet meant for surfing the internet and consuming media on the go but you can use it to make calls as well. While making a call the tablet’s speaker doubles up as the earpiece for calls and Audio Cover Accessory does not work if you put you call on speakerphone. Making a call it looks very awkward using this Tablet as it is too huge and uncomfortable to hold with single hand during a call. Only a person with large hands can hold it comfortably for short calls and making a call is a disaster for women as they usually have smaller hands as compare to men. But it should not be a problem as Tablets are not mean for making calls and everyone has a mobile for that, so I’m not complaining it. Having said that I would like to mention that the SKYPE calls are very impressive on this huge tablet and the Audio Cover Accessory plays an important role here again.
Being a Traveler and blogger I’m on the move every now and then and gadgets with low battery life are a disaster for us. We need gadgets with long Battery life, thanks to the 4000mAh, 15.2Wh non-removable Li-polymer Battery the tablet ran comfortably for full day without any issue and also some juice still left. The good part is the Audio Cover Accessory comes with its own dedicated battery to power it up and not take juice out of main tablet’s battery. Both batteries are charged through single charger point on top of the tablet and needs no separate charging for the Audio Cover Accessory since they are both connected through rear panel.
The Audio Cover Accessory fits perfectly, replacing the standard panel. Speakers are DTS-tuned, and simulate 5.1 surround sound very nicely. If you are thinking of investing in a portable Bluetooth speaker and cover ditch them and buy this cover as this completes the tablet. Audio output is optimized for watching movies and TV shows, but works well for music too.
Tablet comes with primary, an 8 MP Camera with Auto-FocusLarge f2.0 aperture and the 2 MP Front Camera for Selfies and video calls. Tablets usually are not meant for taking pictures you can sometime need to take a quick picture. The picture taken from primary camera are decent for a tablet. It can shoot Full HD (1080P) videos as well. I would say again it is unacceptable to install a 2MP front camera as this is an era of selfies and video(720P) calls(It’s a 4G Tablet), hence the front camera will be good for basic video chatting. The camera UI is good though.
Being a traveler and blogger I need a device which I can use in case of an emergency as a phone and big enough to ditch my laptop and travel light. This tablet does both job well as it is a 4G Tablet it can also make 4G Quality calls and act at a Wi-Fi Hotspot for other devices and big enough to replace my 11 incher laptop with very decent battery backup(Over 10 hours) for whole day use. Also if you have compact wireless desktop set (i.e. Wireless or Bluetooth Mouse and Keyboard set) you can ditch the onscreen keyboard(Using OTG Cable) and do the surfing and other usual and simple stuff which you do on a desktop. I also use the miracast feature and connect with my ChromeCast to play my videos and music over Wi-Fi network (i.e. wirelessly) using FullHD for movies and FLAC for Music playback on my 50 incher.
With smartphones getting larger and more powerful, there’s a growing perception that tablets are a dying product category. A good phablet today has nearly all the advantages of a tablet, and is more likely to be conveniently accessible. Despite this, Asus continues to push the technology, and the ZenPad 8.0 (Z380KL) shows that the Taiwanese company isn’t ready to give up on tablets just yet. It’s a decent device with enough muscle and style to satisfy mid-range users. Even those who use tablets as their primary smartphones will be happy.
The device itself is supplemented admirably by the Audio Cover, an accessory that not only protects the tablet, but also boosts sound volume and quality considerably, making the ZenPad 8.0 a fantastic media device.
Disclaimer : I had been gifted the product for review by ASUS.
Image courtesy : Asus official website