Fourth Review: Asus ZenPad S 8.0 (“Plus/Pro” Model)

This time in great detail at Anandtech.

It’s important to note that just because a device uses the USB Type-C connector does not mean that it supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Superspeed+) along with all the USB alternate modes for networking or display interfaces. With the ZenPad S Z580CA only supporting USB data, you cannot do video out or use any other USB alternate modes. Such features will have to wait for future SoCs and controllers with USB 3.1 and USB alt mode support.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Camera:

It’s clear that the ZenPad S suffers from the exact same processing issues as the ZenFone 2. There’s far too much sharpening of the image as well aggressive noise reduction. This can be easily seen in any of the foliage in the frame, and in the lines separating the bricks of the school walls. There’s also noise across the entire sky, despite this photo being taken with enough light for the camera to shoot at the base ISO of 50. The still image section of my ZenFone 2 review goes into more detail on these issues, and it’s disappointing to see that none of them have been resolved. Relative to the other tablets in my comparison, I would have to say that the ZenPad S takes the lowest quality photos. The exposure and color accuracy is much higher than the Dell Venue 10, but the extreme oversharpening and heavy noise reduction makes the image look more like a painting than a photo.

And WiFi software needs a fix:

You may be wondering why the ZenPad S can only get a maximum speed of 173Mbps over UDP when the ZenFone 2 with its 1×1 802.11ac goes as fast as 293Mbps. You may have also noticed that a speed around 150Mbps is very similar to devices with 2×2 802.11n WiFi, and that’s exactly the problem. The ZenPad S only works in 802.11n mode, a software problem that should have been found in testing long before the tablet actually shipped. I have tested the ZenPad S with an Apple Airport Extreme 6th gen and a TP-Link Archer C7, and the max link speed remains at 200Mbps in both cases. ASUS has confirmed the issue on their end and is aware of it, and so a software fix should arrive for it at some point. Users are, at the moment, just going to have to live with WiFi that isn’t even half as fast as it would be if it was working properly.

Battery life:

In our WiFi web test the ZenPad S falls about 43 minutes short of its rated 8 hour battery life. Had it been designed for a 10 hour rating this wouldn’t be a huge deal as you’d still be talking about nearly 9.2 hours of battery life. However, 7.18 hours is a relatively short battery life for web browsing when you consider that the iPad Mini 2 lasts 9.83 hours in the same test, while the Dell Venue 8 7840 lasts 9.59 hours with the same SoC and a similar display area.

Also about battery life:

The ZenPad S achieves the shortest battery life of our tested devices in PCMark’s battery life test. Although both devices are close, its battery life is slightly shorter than that of the Dell Venue 10 7040, which I repeatedly noted as having extremely poor battery life. PCMark is a fairly good example of the battery life that a user can expected from a mixed workload, and the ZenPad S Z580CA’s battery life of 5.33 hours is not quite where it needs to be.

The overall conclusion is The Nokia Brag:

At $299, the ZenPad S Z580CA actually doesn’t have much in the way of direct competition from other Android OEMs. The $399 price point seems to be where a lot of manufacturers have aimed, with devices like the Dell Venue 8, Nexus 9, and Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 all selling for that price. With that in mind, the ZenPad S does end up being the best device at its price point, but due to a lack of competition more than anything else. If I were recommending a tablet to someone aiming to spend around $299 I would still lean toward the iPad Mini 2 if they weren’t partial to Android or iOS. If someone does really need a tablet that runs Android for any number of reasons then I think it would be best to save up and take a look at the devices selling for around $400. That being said, if a user can’t use a tablet that runs iOS and can’t budge from a $300 price, then the ZenPad S Z580CA appears to be the best of the few options available.

The Nokia Brag was that they were the best of all cellphone makers. The truth was they weren’t the best — their competitors were worse.

And that’s what he says too: This Asus tablet is good only because — outside of the iPad Mini 2– all competitors at that price are worse.

That’s not a thrilling recommendation.

Previously here:

Asus ZenPad S 8.0 (“Plus/Pro” Model) Gets Third Review
Asus ZenPad S 8.0 (“Plus/Pro” Model) Gets Second Review
First Review: Asus ZenPad S 8.0 (“Plus/Pro” Model)
Asus ZenPad S 8.0 (Plus, Pro): US$299
Asus ZenPad S 8.0: Too Many Versions!
Asus Violates Rule One: Don’t Confuse The Market!

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