Asus ZenPad S 8.0 review

A potent mix of high-res screen and speedy performance

Asus ZenPad S 8.0

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The Asus ZenPad S 8.0 manages to pack an awful lot into a 8-inch tablet for just £169.99 ($199 or AU$279). With a fantastic screen, good built quality and other welcome additions such as the stereo speakers, it's a decent alternative to the iPad Mini 4 if you prefer the Android operating system.

The ZenPad S 8.0 is also everything we liked in the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572, despite actually being a cheaper alternative – and with a larger higher-resolution screen and more storage space.

We liked

The bright, pin-sharp display is as good as any oher I've seen on a tablet, and coupled with stereo speakers, a speedy 64-bit processor and 2GB of RAM the ZenPad S 8.0 is more than up to the task of any media or gaming demands you'll make of it.

The new reversible USB-C connector is a welcome addition, while the thin chassis feels well balanced and well made, and hides a battery powerful enough to keep you entertained on most long-haul flights.

Although many users will prefer a stock Android experience, Asus has added some genuinely useful features with its ZenUI launcher, which also offers an almost never-ending amount of customisation options.

We disliked

Although there are some genuinely useful apps pre-loaded onto the ZenPad S 8.0, there are an awful lot of them, which really eats into the tablet's built-in storage before you've installed any of your own. More annoyingly, most of them can't be uninstalled.

A microSD slot is always a welcome addition, but the flap which covers the slot on the ZenPad S 8.0 feels flimsy and vulnerable to breaking if used regularly.

Final verdict

The Asus ZenPad S 8.0 is an attractive alternative to better-known models from Samsung and Apple, and packs in an impressive array of bells and whistles which you might expect to find on a more expensive tablet.

It's not as blisteringly fast as the Google Nexus 9, but Intel's quad-core 64-bit processor is snappy enough to avoid any of the lag or slow-down that spoils the user experience with other cheap tablets.

When you consider that the Asus ZenPad S 8.0 is cheaper than Google's own slate, and half the price of Amazon's or Apple's closest rival, it really does stand out as great value for money, and doesn't scrimp on key features.

First reviewed: September 2015