First, I was very surprised at how in test after test, the Asus ZenPad S 8.0 “Pro/Plus” model performed so well, many times beating the S2.
This only increases my sense of frustration over not — yet? — being able to test that tablet.
Then there’s very bad news …
… about the display of the S2 8.0.
Before getting into our typical display analysis, I wanted to address a question that I’m sure some people have. A quick examination of a Tab S2 8.0’s subpixel arrangement confirms that the smaller model uses a PenTile subpixel arrangement, and there’s significant artifacting on the edges of icons and text, with the issue being very pronounced with thin weighted fonts. This is a big disappointment for users who prefer small tablets, and I would almost hesitate to recommend the smaller model for that reason alone because of how prevalent the issue is. Considering that the original Tab S 10.5 had a pixel density of 320ppi, the use of PenTile on the smaller but otherwise equally pixel dense Tab S2 8″ is either for better maintaining subpixel lifetimes, segmenting the cheaper Tab S2 8.0 from the larger and more expensive Tab S2 9.7, or some balance of both.
While the smaller model of the Tab S2 uses diamond PenTile, the Tab S2 9.7″ does use an RGB-like subpixel arrangement, and it’s essentially the same as the one used on the original Tab S 10.5. In practice there aren’t really any artifacts as a result of the subpixels not being lined up exactly like a conventional LCD display, and it looks every bit as sharp as the iPad Air 2 which is exactly what I had hoped for.
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
So one of my readers was correct early on when he warned me the 8.0 had PenTile!
I’ve handled the S2 8.0 model a lot. Hardly ever used the S2 9.7, so I had nothing to compare it to.
Even so, this …
there’s significant artifacting on the edges of icons and text
… is not something I’ve personally noticed. It’s looked sharp to me.
The 8.0’s Retina resolution looked just like Retina on the iPad Mini 4 and the Insignia Flex Elite 7.85 and the Asus ZenPad S 8.0 “Basic” model, setting aside brightness and color contrast.
But these days I have to use reading glasses after a prior lifetime of perfect vision.
Still, all my tests of Google Books PDFs have left me with nothing to complain about in terms of text being sharp to read.
In all, it’s a mixed review for the S2 9.7, with several important detriments mainly based on the US$499 price — along with a shorter battery life and the lack of fast-charging. With its lower-capacity battery, the S2 8.0 will probably have an even shorter battery life.
The S2 9.7 hasn’t interested me because something that large I’d keep homebound. And if I’m going to have a homebound tablet, the best choice would be the iPad Pro with its larger screen for magazine-sized Google Books PDFs.
I’d sure like to try that Asus ZenPad S 8.0 “Pro/Plus” model. I know screen brightness isn’t as good as the S2 8.0 — and the camera is garbage in low light (see the sample at the AnandTech review) — but there might be points I’d wind up favoring over the S2 8.0.