ASUS hasn’t given up on Android tablets — its latest ZenPad looks like a decent metal-clad slate, though you’ll need have to contend with the company’s typically odd software UI.
Once upon a time it seemed like everyone wanted to release a cheap, small Android tablet. But unspectacular tablet sales — in part fuelled by the rise of larger phones — has cooled enthusiasm for the form factor among device makers. Nevertheless, Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS continues to push out Android tablets; its latest, the ZenPad 8s 8.0, wasn’t included in its glitzy Computex press conference, but it was on display on the show floor in Taipei this week.
The physical hardware of ASUS’s new ZenPad draws inspiration from the company’s Android phones, with a slim (6.9mm) aluminum unibody accented by diamond-cut chamfers. Up top there’s a glossy cutout around the camera module — otherwise, it’s all-metal, with pleasantly curved side walls.
ASUS knows how to make pretty metal gadgets.
The ZenPad’s button setup takes its layout from the ASUS ZenFone line, which is to say it borrows it (vicariously) from Samsung’s 2014-2016 Android phones, with capacitive back and recent apps keys flanking a physical home button. The home key was a little stiff on the demo units I played with, perhaps a consequence of the pre-production hardware on show at Computex.
The display itself looks great, though — it’s a 2K panel that looks sharp, and provides ample pixel density at a 7.9-inch form factor. The only downside, it seems, is the tablet runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chip as opposedo something with a little more oomph, and UI performance wasn’t exactly fluid on the units I played with. The 625 is a fine chip, with an Adreno 510 GPU at its disposal, but it feels out of its depth running a 2K