Asus ZenPad 10 ZD300C
£199 inc VAT asus.com/uk
The ZenPad 10 has a low price, a nice design, a UK keyboard, great sound, microSD support and okay battery life on its side, but it’s also slow and running old, bloated software. It can’t stand up to the best Android tablets, but at just under £200 it may well do the job.
There are two variants of the Asus ZenPad 10. The Z300C (£129) is simply the tablet, while the ZD300C reviewed here comes with the AudioDock
keyboard. A Z Stylus is also available for the ZenPad 10, which costs £26.
One of the best things about the ZenPad 10 is its design. It might be a plastic tablet, but it’s finished to a high standard with a metal-effect trim around the screen, smooth rounded corners and a grippy leather-effect rear on both the tablet itself and the bundled AudioDock keyboard. It looks much more expensive than it is, and it feels very well made.
The keyboard is of better quality than most Bluetooth keyboards, with a UK layout and – given the space available to it – sufficiently spaced keys. It can pair with up to eight devices, which will be useful if this is to be a family tablet, and has a wireless range of 10m.
The AudioDock must be charged separately to the tablet, which is a frustration, though it does have long battery life and we like the fact Asus has added a separate battery indicator to the keyboard to the tablet’s notification bar. If the tablet could lean back even slightly further it would be a vast improvement to usability, but the fact it doesn’t is likely due to this tablet’s weight.
At 510g on its own, and nearly 1kg with the keyboard, the Asus ZenPad 10 is no lightweight machine – it’s almost as heavy as some ultraportable laptops. But it does have a generous 10.1in screen, and there’s plenty of audio hardware built in for a more immersive multimedia experience.
The screen itself uses IPS tech, which is common among tablets and provides realistic colours and
strong viewing angles. Asus builds in several of its own VisualMaster screen technologies, which are said to optimise contrast, sharpness, colour, clarity and brightness on this fully laminated display. We like the overall effect, but it can’t escape the fact this is a low-resolution screen. With a 1280x800-pixel WXGA resolution, the ZenPad has a low pixel density of just 149ppi. The bezels are also fairly chunky, with a screen-to-body ratio of 72 percent.
Audio, meanwhile, is excellent for a budget tablet such as the ZenPad 10, with good bass and more volume than you need. The front-facing speaker has DTS-HD Premium Sound, which allows it to create a surround sound experience. This is also a feature of the AudioDock keyboard, which adds another pair of Bluetooth speakers and can offer up to 12 hours of music playback. Audio presets and customisable settings allow you to fine-tune audio to your taste or the specific task at hand.
At first glance, the ZenPad looks like a great budget tablet, but corners have to be cut somewhere and performance doesn’t even come close to the premium standard set by the tablet’s design.
It’s fitted with a 1.1GHz Intel Atom quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and the Mali-450 MP4 GPU. General navigation is fast enough in its out-of-box state, but apps take several seconds to load and you won’t be able to play anything more intensive than casual games.
For a great many users performance will be sufficient for their daily tasks, such as a spot of web browsing, but it has to be said you get what you pay for. You can’t really expect a 10.1in tablet to be sold with a keyboard, decent audio and good performance at under £200.
We ran the Asus through our usual benchmarks, and weren’t impressed by anything we saw. In Geekbench 3 it managed just 345 points singlecore and 986 points multi-core, which is slower than anything we’ve seen in a long time.
Audio performance and battery life are this tablet’s saving grace, with the latter not coming as a great surprised given the low-power hardware inside. You should get 10 hours-plus from this tablet, depending on your usage.
Connectivity is very basic, with just 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. There’s no NFC and no HDMI, although the ZenPad does support Miracast.
The ZenPad 10 has 16GB of internal storage, which isn’t usually enough but, given the poor-
quality 2Mp rear- and 0.3Mp front cameras, you aren’t likely to be filling it up with photos and videos. Of this allocation around 12GB is available to the user, plus there’s a microSD slot that supports up to 64GB.
If you’re happy to use online storage, then it comes with a 5GB lifetime allowance through Asus’ own cloud, plus 100GB for two years through Google Drive.
Asus’ ZenPad runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, which has already been superseded by Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and in just a couple of months by Android 7.0 Nougat, too. We don’t expect this tablet to ever be upgraded beyond Lollipop. It has the Asus ZenUI user interface, which has some useful customisations but also a lot of bloat – you’ll find apps for the likes of Amazon Kindle, Zinio, TripAdvisor and Omlet Chat preinstalled, though you can uninstall them, as well as arguably more useful additions such as MiniMovie, Kids Mode and AudioWizard. ZenMotion offers a range of touch- and motion gestures, such as the ability to double-tap to wake the screen
or draw a letter on screen in standby mode to wake the tablet and launch a specific app.
The ZenPad 10 is too slow and has too basic a spec for us to recommend it to everyone. Power users should stay away, but Android beginners may find it can meet all their needs. We like the AudioDock keyboard, though it isn’t infallible. Marie Brewis
10.1in WXGA (1280x800, 149ppi) fully laminated IPS display with Gorilla Glass and oleophobic coating Android 5.0 Lollipop 64-bit 1.1GHz Intel Atom x3-C3200 quad-core processor Mali-450 MP4 GPU 2GB RAM 16GB storage, 5GB lifetime Asus web storage space, 100GB Google Drive space for two years; microSD support up to 64GB 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi Bluetooth 4.0 Miracast 2Mp (1600x1200) rear camera, 0.3Mp (640x480) front camera 2x front speaker with DTS HD Premium Sound, Sonic Master technology, aptX Micro-USB Headphone jack GPS, GLONASS 18Wh battery 251.6x172x7.9mm 510g (dock adds 415g)