I’m by no means a big tech geek, but I do like things that make my life easier, quicker and lazier – even more so since becoming a dad as I have less time but seem to need to do more and more!
As a blogger and freelance writer, I obviously spend a hell of a lot of my time – to much, if I’m honest – glued to a device. This is either on my smartphone (HTC One M9) or laptop (ASUS VivoBook S200E) as I check social media, reply to emails or write witty, entertaining and engaging content (!).
As such, I’m very familiar, and really like, both ASUS as a brand and Android as an operating system, so jumped at the chance when ASUS asked if I’d like to review their new ZenPad 8.0 (Z380C) tablet. In addition to this, I was provided with an additional back cover as well as a power case which could be interchanged.
On a side note, I was also keen to try out a new tablet – we’ve owned a Sony Tablet S for nearly four years now and it barely gets turned on due to speed and performance issues. Also, as I have a smartphone and laptop which do everything I need, I wondered whether the addition of a new tablet would change my habits at all. Below you’ll find my (non-techy) review of the ASUS ZenPad 8.0 tablet:
The product is described as:
Surf the web and keep yourself entertained in comfort, whether you’re on the move or relaxing at home, with the Asus ZenPad Z380C 8″ Tablet.
Android 5.0 gives you a fantastic experience – its bold, colourful new design looks great and features layered windows for simple and intuitive menu navigation. Notifications for messages, emails and updates now appear over the top of the screen, so won’t interrupt you browsing the web or watching a film unless you want them to. If you have several Android devices, all your data and options automatically transfer between them, so you can move seamlessly between your tablet and smartphone and instantly pick up where you left off.
Other improvements include estimated battery life and charge times, plenty of new quick settings like Flashlight and screen cast, and Smart Lock which keeps the tablet unlocked while it’s within a certain distance of a trusted device such as a smartwatch or PC.
Use your apps, navigate through web pages and display photos with ease on an 8” IPS LCD display. You’ll always be able to find what you’re looking for. This 10-point multi-touch screen offers an intuitive user interface – combined with a 1280 x 800 resolution and comfortable 178° viewing angle, the ZenPad Z380C is the ideal blend of great visuals and practicality. Asus TruVivid technology delivers a better visual experience, with brighter, more vivid colours and details.
The 16 GB internal memory allows you to store music, pictures and other essential items on your Asus ZenPad Z380C for easy access. You can increase this by an additional 32 GB using the microSD card reader – perfect for taking large amounts of music or films with you on your travels. You can enjoy up to nine hours of use from a full charge, so you can work and play all day without needing to plug in.
Use the 5 megapixel camera on your ZenPad Z380C to take photos and videos of special moments with family and friends – or unexpected things that are happening right in front of you. A web cam allows for clear web chats – carry the tablet around the house while you talk, or just prop it easily on your lap while chilling on the sofa.
Take the ZenPad anywhere without hassle. It’s just 8.5 mm thick and weighs 350 g, so it won’t add much bulk to a bag or backpack. Enjoy everyday tablet computing more with an Asus ZenPad Z380C 8″ Tablet. Specifications include:
- Operating System: Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
- Display: 8″ LED Backlight WXGA (1280×800) Screen, IPS Panel, 10 finger multi-touch support, Corning Gorilla Glass1, Anti-fingerprint coating, Full lamination, ASUS Tru2Life Technology
- CPU: Intel® Atom x3-C3200 Quad-Core, 64bit
- Memory: 1GB/2GB
- Storage: 16GB, 5GB Life Time ASUS Webstorage Space, 100GB of Google Drive space for 2 years
- Graphic: Mali-450 MP4
- Wireless Data Network: WLAN802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.0, Support Miracast
- Camera: 2 MP Front Camera, 5 MP Rear Camera with Auto focus
- Audio: 1 x Front Speaker with DTS HD Premium Sound, Supports aptX®
- Interface: 1 x Micro USB, 1 × 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone / Mic-in), 1 x Micro SD Card Reader, up to 64GB SDXC
- Sensor: G-Sensor/ E-compass/ Hall sensor /Light Sensor
- Battery: 8 hours battery life(TBD);15.2Wh Li-polymer Battery
- Navigation: GPS & GLONASS
- Color: Black, White, Metallic
- Dimensions: 209 x 123 x 8.5 mm (LxWxH)
- Weight: 350 g
On receiving the delivery, I was greeted with three boxes – one contained the actual ZenPad tablet (with charger), one housed an interchangeable white case, whilst the other had a Power Case. I took all the bits out of the box then plugged the tablet into charge.
My first impression of the ZenPad was good. I thought it was a decent size without being too big and the weight was more than manageable. I also quite liked the look of it – the screen was edged with black and a thin line of fake metal, which then blended into dark grey plastic sides and a dark grey leather-patterned back cover. The volume and power buttons were on the right-hand side, whilst the audio jack and charger slot were at the top above the speaker and front camera.
Once turned on – to clarify, that’s the device, not me – I was impressed with how large the screen was in proportion to the size of the tablet as it took up a large amount of the available space. I followed the easy to use wizard in order to set-up the device, which included things like linking my Play Store account (to download apps), setting up my email and social media accounts.
The tablet runs on Android 5.0 (Lollipop) – the same as my phone – so it felt very familiar. In fact, it all felt very familiar and I was comfortably using it within minutes. One of the most annoying things I find though with getting a new device is setting it up to how I like it – this was obviously no different, so I ended up spending a pretty long time downloading the apps I use, putting apps into the ‘correct’ folders and doing other personalisation. However, I found this a pretty easy process due to the tablet interface and menus.
Whilst doing this, I found the tablet to be a little slow though. If I clicked something, the intended action would take a split second longer than I wanted it to and was used to from my phone. We’re not talking about multiple seconds, more like tenths of a second, but I could feel it starting to irritate me a bit. I did do a software upgrade of the tablet though when prompted and it has been a lot more responsive since
During the last few weeks, I’ve used the tablet quite a lot. I’ve made a conscious effort to pick it up instead of my phone or laptop if I’m doing the basics like checking emails, going on social media or browsing the internet. During this time, I’ve had minimal of issues – the screen is clear and vibrant, the audio is good and it does everything I’d want it to do etc.
One of the unexpected benefits of having the tablet is entertaining the sprog. We’ve used the tablet for keeping her occupied or distracting her with games, videos, books or just letting her prod it with her fingers – both in the house and when on our travels. I know there’s different perspectives on letting your little ones have ‘screen time’, but I actually really like the idea of having a tablet nearby to use with the smaller members of the family. It’s also – so far – passed the toddler test as it still looks like new despite some ‘rough’ handling.
The only disappointing thing I’ve found is the quality of the camera. I know most tablets don’t have amazing cameras so this is not surprising, but I’ve found the 5 megapixel rear camera and 2 megapixel front camera to be quite grainy and not great quality. As a blogger, I obviously take loads of photos, so having a device with a camera like this isn’t great. I also found that the camera takes a long time to take the photo, often resulting in grainy, blurry images – have you ever tried to get a toddler to stay still?!
The camera is passable and does the job, particularly if you need to capture something there and then, but I feel like I’d always need to have my phone with me, which would mean doubling up on the number of devices I carry. To show what I mean, the photo on the left is the front camera and the photo on the right is the back camera.
As mentioned previously, the ZenPad’s appearance is able to be personalised by swapping the backplate. The standard one is dark grey, but this can easily be changed for something else from the ASUS range. We were also sent a white backplate, so I swapped things around, you know, just because I could. Changing the back covers is pretty easy as the backplates simply snap off and on to give your device a facelift (this is also how you access the micro SD card slot).
In addition, we also received a white Power Case which can be used instead of the other backplates. I’d not heard of one of these before, but liked what I read – basically, it is a back cover with a battery built in so it increases the life of your device’s battery up to a reported 16 hours. To use, you simply plug an adapter into the ZenPad charger, which allows you to connect it to the Power Case – once charged, you then snap the Power Case onto the tablet. I’ve recently been using the Power Case with the tablet and have noticed an improvement in battery life, but truth be told, it’s not like the battery life without it is particularly bad.
The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 costs £99.99 and can be purchased from retailers including Amazon, Currys and Argos. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the price of this – having not bought a tablet for a few years, I still tend to think of them as being over double this price, so to be able to pick up an affordable Android tablet shows how far things have come. Considering what the ZenPad can do, it feels like you get a lot of tablet for a penny less than £100.
There are five different coloured backs which can be bought separately to personalise your tablet – these costs £14.99. In addition, there is the quite ingenious Power Case which extends the battery life of the device – this will set you back £34.99.
The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 is a really good Android tablet at a very reasonable price. I found that it does all of the basic tasks really well – browsing the web, sending emails, checking social media, etc – but it obviously isn’t a premium tablet in terms of things like the design or materials used. Still, the ability to change the backplate and the addition of a Power Case are definitely positives in my opinion.
Considering that we have a manic toddler trying to grab and break everything, owning a more expensive tablet would just create more stress – it’s already bad enough trying to keep her away from my phone, laptop, TV etc! Therefore having a tablet at the more budget end of the market which still does a great job, feels the most sensible way of including tech in a young family set-up. As such, the ZenPad allows us to use it with the little one – playing online games, reading books, watching videos etc – without worrying as much as if we owned a £500 state-of the-art tablet.
The DADventurer Star Rating
4.5 out of 5 Stars
N.B. This review was written by me (Dave) and represents my honest opinion of the products. The ZenPad 8 tablet was sent to me by ASUS with the purpose of writing an honest product review in exchange for the products.