During my studies, we were recently given tablets to design websites for, standardising the viewing platform of each person. This was initially met with large approval but later on turned sour due to the fact that the tablets were (and there is no better way to put this) shit. A tablet that had been made in 2016 and is still advertised on the company’s website must have certain standards. For a sub £100 tablet, you have to go in with certain expectations, which I did:
1280×800 – ~198ppi
Not bad viewing angles and contrast. Not the worst I have seen and does the job perfectly well
2MP Front, 5MP Back
First of all, the back camera shouldn’t ever really be used on a tablet, don’t do that to yourself. Second, you could probably get better quality shooting from your MacBook’s webcam (the 480p potato one), but expected from this price range and not a deal breaker in any way
DTS HD Premium Sound speaker with DTS headphone:X, Supports aptX®
Nothing about these acronyms actually makes the speaker good, it’s pretty good for the price but apart from casual Youtube videos, I wouldn’t even use it to listen to music if you’re further than a metre away, but it’s good enough.
The battery (life):
It’ll last you, it’s not massive but you’ll see why in a sec. Takes an absolute age to charge (almost 8 hours first time)
Somehow this baby thing has GPS built in (shocker!). For comparison, to get an iPad with that, you have to bump it up to a cellular model.
Weight and build quality:
Not the worst I’ve seen but not the best. Unfortunately I was given a white version, I think it’d look a lot better in black personally and the fake chrome edging is not the worst I’ve seen. The back is quite tasteful but the cover on mine really wants to fall off. But not bad given the price.
Finally, the bit we’ve been waiting for
This is absolutely ridiculous. The Nexus 7 from 2012 packs similar performance benchmarks from Geekbench and cost around the same as this does now. The 2013 version absolutely blows it out of the water, even with other specs as well. In day to day use, this tablet is really slow. With the default launcher and the bloatware loaded on, it takes around a second to launch an app – not load it, just move from tapping it to it opening, and this is the same with closing apps.
The tablet also struggles to play 720p videos on Youtube. Youtube is so optimised yet this stutters and outputs around 15fps – and this is with everything else closed behind it. Chrome is not suited for this machine at all, taking a long time to start, load its tabs and even scrolling a heavy webpage such as the New York Times is met with stutters and lag – if you get there that is. For some reason, even on pretty speedy wifi, this thing will take an age to do anything requiring the network.
I can kinda understand why it is like this. I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been a lot of optimisation for this tablet, passed off as a cheap thing that doesn’t need a second look. Therefore, users are given third party apps built in (which they can’t remove without rooting) to try and solve this. Now I don’t agree with bloatware usually, but requiring users to stop apps starting and ‘boosting memory’ is really abysmal. I personally feel like I’d never buy another Asus tablet myself – probably doing more damage than good. If a company cannot produce a quality product, why make it at all? It just tarnishes the reputation of the brand and deters them from ever buying again. It also degrades my views on Intel’s processors as well (though they have stepped out of the mobile market at the moment).
I was recently discussing this with a course mate and he brought up the idea that for many on the course, this may be their first experience with Android. Therefore, they will not ever give Android a fair chance because of what they have seen on this device. Half of this I blame on the course itself for buying the tablets (which aren’t worth the money in my opinion) but half I blame on Asus. I think they should have not brought out the product, or slapped in a better processor and spent a bit more time on optimisation. Take out the GPS – it’s unbearably slow to use anyway and maybe charge a bit more, but end up with a better optimised product.
I didn’t mention exact product names but if you are interested, I’m talking about the Asus ZenPad 8 (not the S model) Z380M.