Asus ZenPad 10 ZD300C

£199 inc VAT asus.com/uk

Android Advisor - - Contents -

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.

Price

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.

De­sign

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.

Per­for­mance

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.

In the GFXBench graph­ics test it recorded a lowly 10fps in T-Rex and failed to run any of the more in­ten­sive tests. It also failed to run AnTuTu 3D and the JetStream JavaScript bench­mark, and turned it­self off half­way through our bat­tery test.

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

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.

Soft­ware

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.

Ver­dict

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

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

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)

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