- Beautiful display
- Good performance
- 64GB of built-in storage
- 4GB of RAM
- Excellent cameras
- Too many apps pre-installed
- Battery life could be better
Quick TakeThe Asus ZenPad S 8.0 has an outstanding display, good performance, and much more RAM and built-in storage than one would expect for a mid-range Android tablet.
Tablets with 8-inch screens hit the sweet spot. They are more portable than full-sized models while offering more screen real estate than 7-inch devices. Perhaps this is why Asus picked this size for its new flagship tablet, the ZenPad S 8.0 (Z580CA).
This Android model has a very high resolution display, a speedy Intel Atom processor, 64GB of built-in storage, and an 8 megapixel camera, but sells for only $299.
Build and Design
Asus put considerable effort into making the ZenPad S 8.0 look professional. A majority of the back is aluminum that has had hair-thin lines etched in a diamond pattern. Along the bottom edge is a section of plastic that has been made to feel like leather. There’s a chrome border around the front outside edge.
The bezels to the left and right of the screen are relatively slim, and the edges are rounded, so the device can be easily and comfortably held in one hand.
Overall, this tablet is 8.0 x 5.3 x 0.26 inches (203.2 x 134.5 x 6.6 mm) and 0.66 lbs. (298 g), making it thin and lightweight. Nevertheless, it feels solid and well made.
Asus put a 7.9-inch, 2048 x 1536 (QXGA) display in this tablet, giving it a very high pixel density: 324 pixels per inch. IPS technology and no air gap between the touchscreen and the LCD means that the ZenPad S 8.0 offers very wide viewing angles. The backlight is easily bright enough for outdoor use, as long as the device is used in the shade.
In short, this a beautiful screen. Its pixels are so small and tightly packed that everything looks smooth, with no sign of pixilation anywhere. Colors are bright and vivid, making photos and video look great.
For comparison, this is very close to the same screen used in the Apple iPad mini 3, with the same size and resolution, and these two have some of the best displays of any mid-size tablet. Even so, they are narrowly beat out by the Dell Venue 8 7840.
As a mid-size tablet, this display is considerably bigger and easier to see than the ones in even the largest smartphones, making it a better option for gaming or watching video. Of course, it’s also smaller than the ones in full-size models, so it’s not the best choice to be someone’s sole computer.
The LCD is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a layer of protection that makes the screen much less likely to break if the tablet is ever dropped, and it also resists scratching.
Buttons, Ports, and Speakers
This model has a minimal number of physical buttons, as the standard Back, Home, and Open Apps buttons appear only on screen. Still, there’s a volume rocker on the right side of the device, with the power button located below it. This isn’t an ideal location, as it’s easy to accidentally press this button when picking up the device.
The ZenPad S 8.0 is essentially unique among tablets for having a USB Type-C port, rather than a microUSB one. This is very forward thinking of Asus, as USB-C is going to become nearly ubiquitous on laptops, tablets, and phones in the next few years, but right now this model is ahead of the curve. Travelers will either need to carry a separate cable to charge it and their cell phone, or buy an adapter that will enable this device to be charged with a microUSB cable. To help balance against that bit of hassle, unlike all previous versions, there’s no wrong way to plug a USB-C jack into its port: it’s reversible so there’s no top and bottom.
A microSD memory card slot is located on the left side, and covered with a door to protect the card and prevent it from being accidentally ejected. Asus says cards up to 128GB are supported.
Too many tablets have their speakers on their sides, which tends to muffle the sound, so the front-facing speakers on this model are quite welcome. Audio is clear, and loud enough to make it easy to watch a movie or TV show in even a moderately noisy area. Asus included an app to adjust the speakers for a number of uses, including movies, music, gaming, and vocal.