TAIWAN: ASUS UNVEILED a number of laptops at its Computex press conference this year, taking its focus away from the standard tablet upgrades that the show usually sees. We didn't even see any wearables, which was quite strange of the company, especially at Computex where it normally releases a million different gadgets.
However, we found out a day after the main press event that Asus couldn't resist updating its tablet offerings, and quietly launched the ZenPad 3 S 8.0. Replacing the ZenPad S 8.0 that was launched at Computex two years ago, the latest ZenPad 3S isn't anything out of the ordinary, but it is a pretty sleek iPad Mini competitor.
We got some hands-on time with the device on the show floor to see how it performs and whether it's really worth buying over Apple's iOS equivalent.
The ZenPad 3S 8.0 is one of our favourite ZenPad design so far. Its all-metal unibody and 0.85mm diamond-cut bevel both help the device to feel very elegant in hand, adding to its already very slender design, which measures just 6.9mm thick. We don't have figures on how much the ZenPad 3S weighs but in hand it felt very light; not noticeably heavy for its size and definitely light enough to carry in a small bag while travelling for long periods.
Overall, we were big fans of the updated tablet design by Asus this year. The company has given it a much-needed overhaul and made it appear more desirable, being a little different to the standard 16:9 plastic-coated Android tablet that the market seems saturated with at the moment.
The Asus ZenPad 3S 8.0 features a 7.9in 2K 2048x1536 resolution IPS display, which looked brilliantly vibrant in our hands-on. This could be thanks to the firm's VisualMaster technology, which it says offers a sharper display for smoother, non-blurry playback of video.
We found that it operated fluidly and appeared bright, too, thanks to the IPS panel, which helped to keep blacks dark: a much welcome addition, which will most likely push up the price.
Asus decided to go with Qualcomm for its chip for its ZenPad this time around, as opposed to its predecessor that was powered by chips based on Intel's latest Silvermont microarchitecture - aimed at low-power Atom and Celeron-branded processors used in systems on a chip. The new and improved ZenPad 3S 8.0 features a Snapdragon 652 CPU and an AdrenoTM 510 GPU for graphics processing support, alongside either 3GB or 4GB of RAM options, depending on your preferences.
The ZenPad we tested was the more powerful model, featuring 4GB of RAM. In our initial tests, it ran as smoothly as you'd expect on Android 7.1 Nougat with no lag, though this will be something we will have to test properly in a full review, as installing all of your favourite apps can often slow down Android.
The ZenPad 3S 8.0 uses a USB Type-C port instead of microUSB for more convenient charging. On the front, there's a 5MP camera and a rather pointless 13MP snapper on the back (because who uses tablets to take photos, really? If you do, please stop at once). We had a quick test of these and while nothing out of the ordinary stood out, they seemed to function well with relatively fast shutter speeds.
Furthermore, it comes with either 32GB or 64GB of storage, with pricing increasing depending on storage choice.
Pricing and availability
In true Asus style, we don't yet know the prices or availability of the tablets, either, not for the UK, nor the US or any other country for that matter. Asus devices launched at Computex usually take a good few months to come to market in the UK - if they do at all - so if you really want one, be prepared to wait. µ