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ASUS Zenpad S 8 Review: A Gorgeous And Beastly Android Tablet

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We review the Zenpad S 8!

While it’s not hard to find a cheap Android tablet, trying to find a quality Android slate that has both looks and performance can be a daunting task. There’s only a few manufacturers in the market that make stylish, powerful Android-powered tablets, and their offerings aren’t exactly what you’d call cheap. ASUS wants to change that with their ZenPad S 8, offering a stylish, luxurious slate that’s decently priced. Today we’ll be taking a deep dive into the device to see what makes it tick and tell you if it’s product you should spend your hard-earned money on.

But first, the specs:

ASUS Zenpad S 8 Z580CA specs:

  • 2.3Ghz Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core 64-bit processor
  • PowerVR Rogue G6430 GPU
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 8-inch QXGA panel with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 2048 x 1536 resolution
  • 64GB of storage
  • 8-megapixel rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS, Miracast
  • 15.2Wh Li-polymer battery
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop

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One of the few truly stylish Android tablets in the market

There’s no shortage of generic-looking Android tablets in the market. A trip to any SM Cyberzone will yield identical looking slates, all bearing the same generic look. That’s why ASUS went to great lengths in designing the Zenpad S 8 to make it stand out from the pack, and they’ve managed to succeed. We’d forgive you if you mistook it as a small clutch when you first see it, face down. It looks and feels premium, from the faux leather-like design on the bottom to the raised, aluminum edges that have been beveled to give it a different sheen from the body.

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ASUS also includes a rubberized, faux leather clutch in the package when you buy the Zenpad S 8. The only issue we have with it is that the white variant picks up dirt way too easy – it’d be better if you pick up the black variant instead if you’re a little OC when it comes to that.

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There’s a healthy mix of materials used in the construction of the tablet, and we really like how ASUS managed to masterfully blend metal, plastic and glass together to make the slate. The Zenpad S 8 is incredibly thin too – and is only 6.6mm at its thinnest point.

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In portrait mode, you’ll see power button on the right side, along with the volume rocker. The 3.5mm jack is on top, while the USB Type-C port is located on the bottom. The 64GB of storage is expandable via a microSD slot.

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The Zenpad S 8 is one of the few products from the Taiwanese manufacturer to have a USB Type-C connector. This allows you to connect it to the provided USB cable without having to figure out which end goes where, though you’d best take care of the cable that comes with the Zenpad S 8 since there’s not a lot of aftermarket solutions available as of the moment.

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Holding the tablet one handed is possible, though at 8-inches one-handed use is almost virtually impossible, thanks in part to its 4:3 aspect ratio. The Zenpad S 8 is one of the few tablets of ASUS that uses the 4:3 aspect ratio that’s heavily favored by Apple, since most of their tablets all used 16:10 ratios – even the Zenpad S 8’s smaller, less expensive sibling uses the 16:10 ratio.

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This allows the Zenpad S 8 to work better with e-books, comics and magazines, as well as browsing websites and using productivity apps. The downside is that you’ll be getting big black bars on the top and bottom of the tablet whenever you’re watching HD or full HD content.

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Speaking of the display, the Zenpad S 8 uses an ultra-sharp, QXGA resolution panel (2048 x 1536). That works out to around 320ppi, which makes it one of the sharpest ones around for a tablet. The display is stunning, with accurate color reproduction. It’s easily one of the nicest displays we’ve seen in a tablet in a while, save for Samsung’s Tab S 8.

While the tablet has dual front facing speakers, they lack a bit of oomph. While they’re okay for a relatively quiet room, ambient noise (like a fan going full throttle) can easily drown it out.

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Performance as beastly as the Zenfone 2

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that the Zenpad S 8 has the same specs as the top-tier (not Deluxe) Zenfone 2. That means that Zenpad S 8 has a 2.3Ghz Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core 64-bit processor paired with 4GB of RAM. If you’ve read our Zenfone 2 ZE551ML review, you’d know that hardware combo is simply the best you’ll find in a device in the Zenpad S 8’s price range, and is capable of running almost any game you can think of on high settings without any problems whatsoever. It easily ran Mortal Kombat X without any lags that’s associated in some of the more intense animations in the game.

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Navigating through the tablet was a pleasure as well, even though the phone uses somewhat buggy Android 5.0 instead of Android 5.1 Lollipop. ASUS includes their ZenUI in the tablet, and it’s pretty much the same UI overlay that we’ve seen in their past devices.

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Not so awesome camera

The Zenpad S 8 is armed with an 8-megapixel rear camera for photos, as well as a 5-megapixel front camera. There’s really nothing much to say about the camera – it’s mediocre at best, but to be fair most tablet cameras are the same quality – it’s not something that you can fault ASUS alone. We’d suggest not using the camera altogether if you can help it.

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Mediocre battery life

Probably the biggest complaint that we have with the Zenpad S 8 is its battery life – using our PCMark battery benchmark, we managed to get a score of just 5 hours and 54 minutes. That’s not surprising, considering that the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML which has a similar hardware configuration also had issues with battery endurance. We probably managed to get around 2 1/2 movies’ worth before the Zenpad S 8 gave up the ghost, which is kind of a bummer considering that the tablet’s display was so nice.

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Verdict: one of the nicest Android tablets you can buy despite its faults

Even with its faults, ASUS’ Zenpad S 8 is one of the nicest Android tablets you can buy today, especially considering its price. Most contemporary Android tablets that are as thin and as beautiful usually come with more premium price tags – something that the Zenpad S 8 manages to avoid entirely. Yes, it is a bit pricey at Php 16,995, but for the price you’re getting a beastly tablet with a super-sharp screen and a design that even fashionistas will love.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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8 Comments

  1. Sabi na nga ba. Basta Intel, it’s gonna suck power like a starving child at a feast. Stupid Asus. Support your fellow Taiwanese and put in the awesome Helio X20.

  2. I’ve been searching for this unit here in Cebu. The stores I’ve been to did not carry it still. Asus needs to improve their product distribution which frankly is quite terrible. Even their website does not sell it at the time of writing this comment.

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