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Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review

Introduction

Regular readers of the site may remember my adventures and #firstworldproblems in the tablet world. Whether it was using an iPad Mini (many years ago), Windows, convertible devices or a cheap Android slate, I hadn’t found a device which satisfied me completely. My Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is a great device and I have used it heavily since I’ve had it. But it’s now a year old and though I like its 4:3 ratio, it does mean videos are smaller on this screen. Compare this to the original Tab S which had an 8.4 inch screen at a 16:9 ratio. I now thought that I am a significant minority here, the tablet market has stagnated. Many people are keeping their tablets for longer and longer. Even Samsung has fewer models this year, and a refresh of its Tab S series (the S3) has been postponed to Q1 2017. This meant that this is more of a challenge than in previous years. Frankly, there just aren’t new and interesting devices out there.

From now to the Asus Zenpad 3S 10

So whilst I was scouring the internet for Black Friday deals recently, I came across the Asus Zenpad 3S 10. There weren’t many reviews, but those that existed seemed quite positive. The pedant in me couldn’t stand the name, especially since there is another Zenpad 10 around (the Z300M model from 2015). Seriously when will these manufacturers sort their naming out?

Anyway, here’s what’s under the hood.

Specs

  • 9.7-inch display
  • 2048 x 1536 resolution @ 4:3 aspect ratio IPS LCD
  • MediaTek MT8176 processor (2.1 GHz) Hexacore with two ARM Cortex-A72 cores, four ARM Cortex-A53 cores (1.7 GHz)
  • PowerVR GX6250 graphics (650 MHz)
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow with ZenUI
  • 22Wh – 5900 mAh battery
  • Front mounted fingerprint sensor
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 support
  • USB-C connector
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • DTS Audio with support for 24-bit/192 kHz output through the headset jack
  • 32 GB storage (a 64GB version is also available in Taiwan)
  • 4GB RAM
  • micro SD card slot (up to 128GB)
  • 8 MP rear camera and 5MP front camera
  • thickness – 7.1 mm
  • weight – 430 grammes
  • size – 240.5 x 163.7 x 5.8 mm
  • Optional Z Stylus pen supported available and compatible (but not included)
  • Silver or Grey colours
  • Recommended Retail Price £299

Looking at the specs, a few things need mentioning. The processor isn’t one which is common in tablets at the moment. From looking at benchmarks on the internet it seems roughly equivalent to a Snapdragon 652 which is encouraging. The GPU seems a bit weaker than the 652’s, but in other respects, it’s actually better. Only the 32GB Wi-Fi variant seems to be available internationally; the 64GB variant seems to be Asia-only. Interestingly, while an LTE model was mentioned when the device was launched earlier this year, this never seemed to materialise. The front-mounted fingerprint sensor is a cool addition, I like the added security and convenience it offers. The price is mid-range, not as high as an equivalent Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 or iPad Pro 9.7.

Hardware

I must say, the hardware is lovely! The Asus Zenpad 3S 10 has an all-metal, diamond-cut, chamfered design which is probably the best looking android slate at the moment. On unboxing, you come across a nice tablet with a USB-C cable and charger. Yes, it gives a very big nod to the design of the iPad Pro, but manages to be lighter and just as svelte with even smaller bezels (at 5.8mm). It’s easy to hold for long periods and there is no creak or bend in the chassis that I could discern. I have the space-grey colour and it can be a bit of a fingerprint magnet. On the front of the display, there is a hardware home button a la Samsung’s implementation which doubles as a fingerprint sensor. It’s quick and works really well. The capacitive buttons are a bit close to the home button, so sometimes you can miss-hit and end up on the home screen. But this is a minor gripe, which I can learn to avoid.

Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review

Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review

Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet ReviewIs the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review

Display

On the front, we have a 9.7in 2K 2048 x 1536 IPS display at a 4:3 ratio. This seems to be the way that tablets are going. Most are now appearing to shun the 16:9 ratio that most Android tablets in the past used to employ. Interestingly the iPad series has always had this aspect ratio. The display itself is sharp and bright, however it isn’t as punchy as the AMOLED panel in the Galaxy Tab S2. That’s not surprising I suppose, what with the different screen technology employed. As someone who has had a number of Samsung AMOLED devices for a couple of years, I could definitely discern the difference. Also, whilst video content looked superb with the Tru2Life technology, the display on the the Asus Zenpad 3S 10 seemed slightly faded and less sharp when just navigating the stock Asus ZenUI Launcher. This may be a design aesthetic issue or a scaling issue, but it disappeared when I changed over to Nova Launcher.

Software

The Asus Zenpad 3S 10 runs Android 6.0 with the Asus ZenUI skin on top. an Android 7.0 Nougat update is allegedly in the offing, but no timescale has been given. Now, I’m not one of those purists that only loves stock android. Over the years, I have liked nearly every manufacturer skin (TouchWiz, Sense, even EMUI, etc), some more than others. They can give useful features, often they also look nicer. However, this is probably the first time that I have really HATED one. ZenUi does have some good features, but nothing that couldn’t be done with few apps and customisation. It looks terrible, with horrible icons and too many cartoonish features. It has needless customisation when none was required (the lock screen for example). There was also the display issue I’ve mentioned above. I very quickly changed my launcher to Nova. This isn’t something I do lightly, but it just looked horrible!

Additions

Asus also have preloaded a lot of apps on the Asus Zenpad 3S 10. Some of these I’d probably download anyway, like Google’s Apps suite (Docs, Sheets etc), or Facebook. But then there a few apps which just do not make any sense. For example, Instagram. I mean really? On a tablet? There is a theme store to customise the launcher, but even those seem quite cartoonish.

Some of Asus’ own apps though are quite functional. Supernote seems the best, which is an app for using a stylus to make notes etc. Now there is such a thing as the Asus Z Stylus. However, it isn’t included with the Asus Zenpad 3S 10, and I have yet to buy it so can’t pass comment. Some of these apps aren’t very good – the File Manager app is especially weak. I mean, even Samsungs stock one is better, and it does look hideous to me.

Also, the keyboard seems hideous, and there is a theme store for this too. But alas, I genuinely didn’t find a good one. I quickly went to Swiftkey.

It’s not all bad. There are a few quick shortcuts which are useful. Holding down the recent apps button for a screenshot is one example. The customisations to clear apps in the recent apps tray too is a neat addition. But I feel that Asus really needs to sort out the aesthetics overall.

Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review

Now, after a bit of Nova customisation….

Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review

PERFORMANCE

The MediaTek processor in the Asus Zenpad 3S 10 seems plenty capable from the apps I have used when coupled with the 4GB of RAM. It isn’t spectacular, but I’ve not seen a stutter when multitasking or playing heavy games. Some of the latest titles may struggle with the GPU. For day-to-day ‘tablet-y’ activities, it seems to work well if unspectacular. There was the occasional lag in the interface, but I think that is a software issue as it mostly disappeared after installing Nova. Wi-Fi connectivity seems a bit hit-and-miss. Whilst it has the latest 802.11ac standard, I found it often dropped my fibre optic broadband connection. This is something I’ve never noticed on any of my other mobile devices. I have noticed dropouts with my Linux laptop, so I wonder if it is a kernel issue that needs optimising by Asus. Certainly, the other android devices I’ve had haven’t had this issue.

AUDIO

Normally, tablet audio isn’t anything to write home about. But DTS audio and five-magnet stereo speakers dotted around have full support for high-res audio. It also includes what Asus calls a ‘Smart AMP’ to polish the sound up to suit the speakers. They get really loud and have good range. Yes, it can get tinny at highest volumes, but it’s still much better than many others out there. Watching video is great and the listening to songs is also brilliant. If you attach headphones (through that strange thing known as a 3.5mm jack!) then there are some further optimisations that Asus does to optimise the sound. I am not an audiophile, but it sounded good to me!

 

Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review

 

Video

As mentioned earlier, the display is gorgeous. Even though the 4:3 ratio means some black bars on the screen, videos are plenty big with good colour reproduction. As a multimedia device, the Asus Zenpad 3S 10 is right up there with the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 and iPad Pro 9.7.

Cameras

Frankly, the less said about these, the better. First, don’t be that guy that uses a tablet as their camera. Secondly, especially don’t use this one. Seriously. Its supposed to be 8 MP, but the pictures look rubbish. They’re washed out and blurry, with an imprecise focus. The selfie camera is also rubbish. Asus have put different modes etc. but it doesn’t change the fact that it just isn’t very good.

 

Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet ReviewBATTERY

Battery

Hmm, I was surprised by this. Even though there is 5900mA battery in the Asus Zenpad 3S 10, I didn’t find battery life particularly fantastic. I am not a big fan of battery benchmarks for tablets, as peoples’ use of them vary so much. But on average, we are looking at about 8 hours screen on time. This in comparison to the Galaxy Tab S2 which gives about 12 hours. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means. On the whole it was adequate, but more often then not I found that even whilst it had just been sat there on my table, it had drained significantly.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I think this is a great device at a good price point. The higher-end android tablet segment has seen stagnation due to the different dynamics of the tablet market as discussed above. However, the Asus Zenpad 3S 10 is probably one of the best tablets out there. As a multimedia device, it does everything well. Yes, I don’t like ZenUI. It offends much more than TouchWiz ever did, but with a different launcher and the SwiftKey keyboard, I’ve dealt with that. Yes the Galaxy Tab S2 would probably just edge it out overall, but it is a year-old and still significantly more expensive. For me, I really like the Asus Zenpad 3S 10, and I think I may have finally found what I have been looking for.

The post Is the hunt over? Asus Zenpad 3S 10 Tablet Review is original content from Coolsmartphone. If you see it on another news website, please let us know.

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  • Argos Deals – GO!

    Right. Yadda, yadda, yadda, Black Friday. Deals. Bargains. Offers. Spend lots of money. Take many years to pay it back. Stress about it, but bury your head in the sand and look at the shiny, shiny. Yay.

    Today it’s Argos, and a load of Black Friday deals have, quite literally, just gone live.

    Argos Deals   GO!

    That can’t be comfortable..

    First, the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Yes, the one where you can do “that thing” to it and watch The Grand Tour which (I must admit) is excellent. Now it’s down to a mere £24.95. Get it on this Argos page and collect it from store.

    Next, some branded headphones to impress your mates with. These rely on a tried and trusted bit of technology called a “3.5mm audio port” and are down to £99.99 (they were £129.99).

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    Meanwhile, there’s some fitness trackers. The Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity and Sleep Wristband is down to £39.99 and you can get it in black or pink.

    More as we get it people. Go go !

    Update – It looks like Amazon are matching the prices on a lot of this, so if you’d prefer to buy from them, head to the Amazon Black Friday page.

    The post Argos Deals – GO! is original content from Coolsmartphone. If you see it on another news website, please let us know.

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  • Acer Iconia Tab 10 – Unboxing

    Today we have a new tablet in the house from Acer – the Acer Iconia Tab 10. The Iconia Tab 10 is Acer’s take on the low cost but premium build tablet that aims to be your new multimedia device.

    Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing

    The Acer Iconia Tab 10 is currently available from all good retailers for a great price of £179.99. What we have here is a 10.1″ tablet with a great Full HD screen and not one, but four forward facing speakers. These speakers are backed by sound technology from DTS Audio, who have worked heard to produce a premium audio experience on an inexpensive device.

    Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing

    As for the rest of the specs, they are on par for a device in this price segment

    specs

    • 10.1-inch screen
    • Resolution 1920 x 1200 pixels
    • IPS technology
    • Multi-touch screen
    • LED backlit display
    • Fingerprint resistant coating
    • 1.5GHz MediaTek mt8163a quad-core processor
    • 2GB RAM
    • 32 GB internal storage
    • Android 6.0 operating system
    • 2 MP webcam
    • 5MP rear camera
    • Wi-Fi,  Bluetooth
    • 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
    • microSD memory card slot
    • Micro HDMI
    • Micro USB
    • Four front-facing speakers with DTS-HD premium sound
    • Up to 8 hours battery life (depending on usage)
    • 9mm thin
    • Size H16.8, W25.9cm
    • Weight 529g

    Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing

    initial thoughts

    On the face of it, The Acer Iconia Tab 10 looks like a pretty good tablet then. I have been using the device for a few days now, mainly for its multimedia functionality. In this role, it is performing admirably. The battery will last long enough for at least two feature-length films with room to spare. There are some pretty neat little features that have been stacked on top of a relatively spartan installation of Android 6.0. One of these is the use of multi-finger inputs. For instance, when the screen is locked, you can use 5 fingers to unlock the screen and go to an app of your choice. This is a really nice touch when you’re using the tablet in conjunction with an HD TV via the inbuilt HDMI port.

    Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing

    Connectivity wise, in addition to the Micro HDMI port, we also find Micro USB for charging and USB OTG is supported. You will also find a 3.5mm headphone jack and Micro SD card support for storage expansion of up to 256GB. The Wifi is 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth version is 4.0. We can also find an accelerometer for detection of movement, and GPS for navigation. Sadly there is no LTE model of this device, so if you plan to use this on the go you will need to tether to a hotspot or phone.

    views

    Here is a little unboxing video:


    I recorded the video a few days ago, hence the mention of my plans to use this while on my trip away.

    Here is a gallery of the rest of the Iconia Tab 10.

    Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing Acer Iconia Tab 10   Unboxing

    Check back in a few days for the full review.

    The post Acer Iconia Tab 10 – Unboxing is original content from Coolsmartphone. If you see it on another news website, please let us know.

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  • Watch Microsoft’s Surface event in 10 minutes

    Microsoft had no shortage of announcements at its big Surface event. The Surface Studio all-in-one was undoubtedly the centerpiece, but the tech pioneer also unveiled a supercharged Surface Book, low-cost third-party VR headsets, the art-oriented Sur...