The Asus ZenPad S 8.0 is powered by a 2.33 GHz 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor, with PowerVR G6430 graphics. This is a high-end processor, if not the most powerful available, which is what one would expect from a $299 mid-size tablet.
This model has 4GB of RAM, something very few of its rivals can boast. This greatly improves this tablet’s ability to run multiple applications simultaneously and handle cutting-edge software.
Asus’s latest scored a 2860 on the Geekbench 3 benchmarking tool. It didn’t do as well as the HTC Nexus 9 which earned a 3100 or the Dell Venue 8 7840‘s score of 2930, but it’s comfortably better than the 2415 score of the Apple iPad mini 3, and all three of these cost $100 more. There’s no comparison with similarly priced or less expensive tablets: the Lenovo Tab 2 A8-50 pulled in a 1720, for example, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 scored a 1450.
In real world terms, the ZenPad S 8.0 is more than powerful enough to handle the day-to-day task of running the Android operating system, and it’s up the job of taking on the most powerful third-party applications, including games.
There’s 64GB of built-in storage capacity (53.7GB available to the user), which is quite a bit for a $299 device… the typical amount in this price range is 16GB This can be added to via microSD cards but not micro-USB drives because of the device’s USB-C port.
This tablet runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, the version of this OS released last fall, so it’s relatively up to date, but will soon be replaced by an edition called Android Marshmallow. It’s not know when, or if, the ZenPad S 8.0 will get an upgrade to the upcoming version.
Asus replaced the standard Google application launcher and homescreens with its own, which it calls ZenUI. This offers many more settings than the standard one, such as two options for displaying the Favorites Tray, alternate animations for switching between homescreens, and different fonts for home screen labels. Those who like to tweak the way their tablet looks and acts will love this. An especially handy feature is the ability to automatically move new applications to folders based on what type they are; for example, on downloading the Tablo app it was placed in a Media & Video folder.
There’s also a Kids Mode built into ZenUI. This provides a web browser that won’t go to inappropriate sites, a built-in timer to set how much screen time children get, a way to control which apps kids get access to, and everything is password protected.
In addition, Asus built in a feature called SnapView that is a user account meant to be used for work. All photos, files, and apps that are stored in SnapView cannot be accessed when in an account of the owner or other users, and it requires a separate password to unlock.
Asus included a considerable collection of additional software pre-installed, and links to lots more. This is the usual mixed bag of useful and useless applications. Some of the useful ones include a tie-in to Asus’ own cloud-storage service with 5 GB of free space for life plus 11GB more for two years, PC Link for mirroring the tablet’s display on a Windows computer, and SuperNote for taking simple handwritten notes and sketches.
On top of that is the collection of productivity and entertainment software that Google bundles with Android, including the Chrome web browser, email apps, Google’s own office suite, and much more.
There’s so much software pre-installed that it can be a bit over-whelming, and new users are going to need to spend some time wading through it all deciding which are useful and which should be hidden or at least ignored.
Asus went all out for the cameras built into the ZenPad S 8.0. The rear-facing one is 8 megapixels, so it’s as good as those found in many mid-range phones. The front one is 5 MP, which makes it as good as some other tablet’s rear cameras and far better than typical front-facing cameras.
The standard Android camera app has been replaced with one that’s a bit easier to use and that offers many more options. Users can set it into a range of modes for different situations: Auto, HDR, Beautification, Low Light, Night, Depth of Field, Effect, Selfie, Gif Animation, Panorama, Miniature, Time Rewind, Smart Remove, All Smiles, and Time Lapse.
Beautification smooths away wrinkles, though it tends to make people look a bit like they are made of plastic. The low light mode is surprisingly good; it can’t perform miracles, but it can make a poorly lit subject seeable. Selfie does face detection so the rear camera can be used for selfies, but all smiles isn’t smile detection, unfortunately. Gif Animation is fun and easy to do.
The ZenPad S 8.0 is supposed to last 8 hours on a single charge, according to Asus. Real world use doesn’t back up this claim, though, with multiple tests always getting more than 6 hours of video and web access but never as much as 8 hours.
While not ideal, this doesn’t cripple the tablet. Still, those expecting to use this device heavily for long periods should never be far from a charger.