If you're a Verizon customer, then you're in luck, because Asus has an exclusive tablet to serve your media needs. The 8-inch ZenPad Z8s provides a bright display, an impressive sound system and good looks, all for $250. Whether you want to watch videos on YouTube or takes notes in Google Docs, the Asus ZenPad Z8s is a reliable Android tablet that's worth considering.
The Asus ZenPad Z8s measures 8.0 x 5.3 x 0.27 inches and weighs 10.7 ounces, making it the lightest 8-inch tablet I've seen so far. Competitors like the Lenovo Tab 4 8 measured 11.2 ounces, while the Amazon Fire HD 8 measured 13 ounces and the 9.7-inch Apple iPad came in at 16.5 ounces.
The ZenPad Z8s has a sophisticated appearance. Its aluminum backing is a matte, gunmetal shade with matching plastic sides and a top bezel that houses a 13-megapixel rear shooter. Thin chrome accents decorate the edges of the tablet and rear camera, which really makes the ZenPad Z8s stand out from the competition. A bright silver Asus logo sits in the middle of the shell, while a smaller Verizon logo is situated at the bottom.
MORE: Kids Tablets to Buy (or Avoid)
The ZenPad uses a USB Type-C port for charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot capable of holding up to 128GB of additional storage. Textured aluminum buttons for the power and volume are located on the ZenPad's right-hand side, while a smooth, plastic home button is housed in the center of the bottom bezel. A 5MP, front-facing camera lives on the top bezel. Dual speakers are nestled at the bottom edge; however, the ZenPad's microphone can be found at the top edge.
The Asus ZenPad Z8s' 2048 x 1536 display is on par with the pixel-rich iPad's screen. The ZenPad's crisp and colorful screen was most noticeable when I watched the Tomb Raider movie trailer.The resolution made Alicia Vikander's features so sharp that the pores on her cheeks were visible during close-ups. Fine details like individual strands of chocolate-brown hair and green blades of grass were easy to pick out while she ran through the jungles of Yamatai.
According to our colorimeter, the ZenPad Z8s' screen can reproduce 107 percent of the sRGB color gamut. That number is higher than scores from the Lenovo Tab 4 8 (90 percent), Amazon Fire HD 8 (79 percent) and category average (97.4 percent). Apple's iPad beat the ZenPad(123 percent), but by only a slight margin.
Compared to other 8-inch tablets, the ZenPad Z8s is the brightest, measuring 439 nits. This score surpassed showings from the Tab 4 8 (429 nits) and Fire HD 8 (380 nits), as well as the category average (392 nits). The iPad (470 nits) is brighter, but not by much.
With dual stereo speakers at the bottom edge of the tablet, the Asus ZenPad Z8s produced audio loud enough to fill a small conference room. When I listened to BTS' "Mic Drop," I could hear the booming bass, synth and vocals clearly. The ZenPad Z8s comes preinstalled with Asus' AudioWizard app so you can adjust your listening experience with one of the six sound modes provided (Power Saving, Music, Movie, Recording, Gaming and Speech).
There's a small, built-in microphone hidden at the very top of the ZenPad Z8s. To get the best sound quality when recording video or voice notes, you'll need to make sure your tablet is facing the audio source. When I recorded a few clips to see how the microphone picked up sound, the playback sounded accurate.
With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor and 3GB of RAM, the Asus ZenPad Z8s provides reliable performance for all of your media needs. I was able to surf the web and check my social media notifications with 10 tabs open in Google Chrome with ease. I didn't even experience stutter when alternating between Pokemon Duel and Netflix.
The ZenPad Z8s scored a solid 4,171 on the Geekbench 4 app, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance. This result outperforms showings from the Tab 4 8 (1,847) and Fire HD 8 (1,785), as well as the category average (3,162).The iPad (4,429) had the best performance overall, but it costs $80 more than the Z8s.
Asus' tablet turned in a score that surpassed other 8-inchers in our graphics test, earning 18,520 on the Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark, which measures graphics performance. That score crushed the Lenovo Tab 4 8's showing (6,029) and the Amazon Fire HD 8's result (6,015), as well as the category average (13,842). The Apple iPad still took the top spot, earning a 28,399.
Battery Life: Short-lived
When it comes to a long-lasting battery, the Asus ZenPad Z8s is not top-tier. The tablet lasted only 7 hours and 45 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi). The Lenovo Tab 4 8 (10:07), Amazon Fire HD 8 (10:58) and Apple iPad (12:59) all lasted longer than the ZenPad; even the category average was better (9:56).
Interface and Software
Asus' ZenPad Z8s runs on Android 7.0 (Nougat) and comes preloaded with Google apps. I enjoyed Nougat's split-screen view because it let me manage multiple tasks at the same time.
The interface features a simple Android aesthetic. Navigation is achieved through the touch screen, home, back and overview buttons. The only downside I found with the capacitive Back and Recent Apps buttons was the lack of backlighting, which made using the ZenPad a little tricky in dark conditions.
Above the home button is the ZenPad's app manager, which lets you see all the apps installed on your device. The main menu features a search box that works with Google Chrome and OK Google.
MORE: 10 Tablets with the Longest Battery Life
Since the ZenPad Z8s is exclusive to Verizon, it comes preloaded with the My Verizon app, where you can manage your account and billing. Other useful apps include Message+, which syncs with your phone number to send text messages over Wi-Fi, and Do It Later, which organizes task reminders.
Cameras: As good as it gets
Budget tablets usually have poor cameras. However, the shooters on the ZenPad Z8s are better than those found on the Tab 4 8 and Fire HD 8. The 13MP rear camera captured clear photos with very little background noise, while the 5MP front camera was significantly grainy in comparison. Even in HDR Pro mode, the front-facing shooter couldn't compete with its higher-resolution counterpart.
Colors were off and undersaturated. When I took a selfie, my olive jacket appeared gray, while my bright coral top registered more on the light pink side. If you ever need to snap a quick picture of yourself, I'd recommend you ask a friend to take it for you with the rear camera.
The $250 Asus ZenPad Z8s is a speedy media tablet at a decent price. Offering a bright display, great audio and sophisticated design, the ZenPad is hard to beat for the price. And if you're not sure if you want to shell out the cash all at one time, Verizon offers 24-month financing for $10.41 per month. Or you can opt for a two-year contract and get the ZenPad for $150 instead.
Shoppers who just want an inexpensive 8-inch tablet may prefer Lenovo's $128 Tab 4 8 or Amazon's $80 Fire HD 8, both of which have longer battery life but slower performance. If you don't mind getting your hands on a slightly bigger screen with better overall specs, then Apple's $329 iPad may be worth the investment. However, if you just want a 4G Android tablet that you can add to your Verizon line, the ZenPad Z8s is a great choice.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag