What’s the story?
What’s going on with budget tablets? Aside from the odd outlier like the now-ancient Nexus 7 (2013) and Tesco Hudl 2 (RIP), loads of manufacturers are still doling out low-power, low-resolution tablets like it’s 2011. The Asus ZenPad S 8.0 is one of those tasty outliers.
It’s ₹24,899 but has a iPad Mini-grade sharp screen with vivid colour and good contrast. Getting 2048 x 1536 pixels at this price is a big win. That is one major box ticked.
It has a fast CPU too, an Intel Atom Z3530 that smashes the rival Snapdragon 410 in benchmarks. Intel's tablet CPUs generally offer worse gaming performance than the more common Qualcomm kind, but the ZenPad S 8.0 seems to have power to spare. Most games run just about perfectly, and look cracking thanks to that sharp, colourful display.
It’s dead slim and light too. 7.9mm and 318g, this feels like a tablet that want to be taken everywhere. And while battery life doesn’t quite match an iPad, that you still get 8 and a half hours of video between charges. Some lower-res tablets last longer, but we’ll take the trade off for a much nicer screen, thanks.
Pick up the tab?
Given some of the tablets Samsung and LG trot out close to this price, the Asus ZenPad S 8.0 looks like a real bargain from all angles. Before you get too excited, there are some downsides. Firstly, the software gets a bit annoying. It adds a lot of apps that clutter-up the interface. It’s just not as clean as what you get with a Nexus device, for example.
The build isn’t quite as nice as it first looks either. It’s slim, and has a classy metal plate on the back to make sure it doesn’t feel flat-out cheap. However, the buttons on the side feel worryingly spongy a lot of the time, the feel changing depending on how your hold the thing. You wouldn't get that with an Apple device.
The cameras aren’t too hot either, but then they rarely are in affordable tablets, are they? You need to put a little bit of effort into the Asus ZenPad S 8.0 when you first get it, but when you consider what some other brands offer you for just ₹2,000 less, you have to appreciate its value-soaked style.
Screen: 8in IPS LCD (2048 x 1536) • Processor: Quad-core Intel Atom • RAM: 2GB • OS: Android 5.1.1 • Storage: 32GB with microSD • Camera: 5MP rear, 2MP front • Dimensions: 13.5 x 20.3 x 0.8 cm